Of course you know by now that the latest in celeb legal buzz is the “Blurred Lines” fiasco:

The Scoop

Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. filed a preemptive lawsuit against Marvin Gaye III, Nona Gaye, Christian Gaye and Bridgeport Music Inc. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgement – basically, it asks the judge to determine whether “Blurred Lines” constituted copyright infringement on Marvin’s “Got to Give It Up” and/or Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.” The lawsuit was not filed out of the blue – it was in response to claims by Marvin’s family and Funkadelic’s copyright owner that “Blurred Lines” was not original. Allegedly, there were threats by the other side to sue, but Robin and ’em moved first.

The Root provided the best breakdown of the issues. Most importantly, they quote, Isaac Hayes III who breaks down what constitutes copyright infringement in music:

“In copyright infringement [involving music],” Hayes explained, “you have to consider three things: cadence, melody and lyrics, and you have to take two of the three in order for it to be infringement.” If neither is used in their identical form, then the producer isn’t required to cut a check to the publisher of the original version. “In the case of “Blurred Lines,” he continued, “they take none of the three.”


Now, dear creative biz owner.

What is the lesson for you?

Let me start by explaining the purpose of Robin and ’em seeking a declaratory judgment. While blog and social media commenters are bashing the trio for making this move, it actually shows that they have a savvy team on deck. This was a great strategic move because:

  1. It allows Robin and ’em to tell the court their side of the story first and to frame the issues to their advantage.
  2. It allows them a “home court advantage” – to choose the court that will decide the copyright issue.

When consulting clients, I always ask about their business goals so that I can recommend the best legal strategies to deal with issues that haven’t surfaced yet, but probably will in the future.

I am a big picture, strategy lawyer.

For instance, if I know that a client wants to franchise down the road, I can recommend the steps that they should take to protect their brand + biz now, leading up to that point (rather than backtracking and picking up the pieces later).

 Ask yourself:

-What is my “big picture” for this business?

-What are the potential issues that I will face while trying to achieve the “big picture?” (I help my clients figure this part out).

Now take a lesson from Robin and ’em and map out the plan of attack for those issues.

Strategize and position yourself for success.

How do you strategize and plan ahead in your business? Chime in below.

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