Be Original or Get Your Ass Sued Like Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams

My favorite quote from Ronald Reagan:

[Tweet “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit. #RonaldReaganquote”]

There are a lot of pretenders out there. I see it in business all the time: some slacker with tall aspirations of making it rich goes out and rips off a hard working, enterprising entrepreneur’s efforts and slyly relabels it with his brand, hoping the public is none the wiser. It pisses me off.

When people put their blood and sweat into a project and someone else comes along, without any consideration for their effort, and tries to take credit, it’s egregious and speaks to the lack of quality in that person’s character. I don’t care if you’re summarizing a small piece of an article you read in a book for your paper, or you’re trying to make a commercial product, give credit where credit is due, otherwise you’re stealing… just ask Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.

Yesterday a jury found the two artists ripped off a Marvin Gaye song in ‘Blurred Lines’. Don’t get me wrong on this one, Pharrell Williams has done some great things in his career, and he is an innovator in his niche, but perhaps in this instance he went against better judgment. Robin Thicke, on the other hand… well, I’m not so sure about him. But that’s beside the point.

As you likely know, the song ‘Blurred Lines basically made Robin Thicke’s career. It sent him to the top of the charts, crowned him an overnight pop sensation and bagged him millions of dollars. But now he’s got egg on his face after a jury ruled that ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed on a Marvin Gaye copyright. Apparently before this thing went to court Thicke and Williams had a chance to settle it, but they chose not to. Whether that was their decision or their handlers (i.e. some greedy lawyer) is unknown.

The cost to Pharrell and Robin Thicke? Nominally: roughly $7.4 million. Reputationally: trashed.

Lesson in all of this: Give credit where it is due. And be original. There are no shortcuts to success.

Stay hungry,
Aaron Hoddinott signature




Here’s another example of a similar incident of copyright infringement in the music industry; except the artist in question, Sam Smith, didn’t bother fighting it in court. He settled with Tom Petty out of court and righted his wrong by agreeing “…to give Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne, songwriting credits on Stay With Me. The British artist’s breakthrough hit sold more than 3.5 million tracks and is up for song of the year at next month’s Grammy Awards” according to CBC.


These copyright incidents accidentally happen in the music industry from time to time, according to Tom Petty. Regardless of whether it is intentional or not, we all know the right thing to do if discovered. Give credit where credit is due.

Read Business Insider’s synopsis of the incident here.

About the author

Aaron Hoddinott

Like all of you entrepreneurs and investors out there, Aaron has been in the trenches. He is the founder of an influential online media and PR company. From oil wildcatters to mining prospectors, tech gurus to medical doctors, and even celebrities, Aaron has helped market and expand brand awareness for a diverse range of publicly traded companies ran by entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

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