Nov 4, 2016

'Uptown Funk' Faces Copyright Claim

Collage, a funk band prevalent in the 1980s, are suing Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson for allegedly copying significant parts of their 1983 song 'Young Girls' for use in the duo's 2014 hit 'Uptown Funk.' This is the latest in a long line of copyright claims involving allegations of musicians having copied parts of their songs from older works. Other artists currently involved in similar disputes include Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake.

Collage's claim is based upon asserting that both songs share similar use of guitar riffs. But the band have also construed their claim much more widely, with Collage alleging that Mars and Ronson's song has copied the main instrumental attributes and themes of their own 80's song.  Collage are seeking both damages and profits.

The idea of basing a copyright infringement claim upon two songs which share similar themes stems in part from a ruling last year that the Robin Thicke's song 'Blurred Lines' had copied sections of Marvin Gaye's song 'Got to Give It Up'. Gaye's estate was awarded $5.3m for their successful copyright infringement claim.

This is not the first time that Mars and Ronson have faced copyright claims over their song 'Uptown Funk.' In 2015, the duo awarded The Gap Band writing credits as well as 17% of the royalties from 'Uptown Funk' following claims that they had used sections of their 1979 'Oops Upside Your Head' hit. A female rap group called The Sequence have also claimed that their 1979 song 'Funk You Up' was the inspiration behind 'Uptown Funk' but they are yet to file a formal claim or give any indication of doing so.

Neither Mars nor Ronson have commented on Collage's allegation. However, should Collage be successful in their claim, it would be another example of modern artists being found to have copied older work. This should serve as a further warning to current artists to be very careful when sampling older work in their songs.

Posted by: in: Copyright, News

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