The fears of music industry insiders in the wake of the “Blurred Lines” ruling may have just come true.
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ monster hit “Uptown Funk” has been inescapable. The song, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks, was originally credited to six songwriters, but that number ballooned to 11 after legendary funk and R&B group, The Gap Band, came calling last week.
Popular perception says that one of the reasons Ronson and Mars’ song was such a big hit was because it “borrowed” elements from and reminded people of a number of past hits, including The Gap Band’s “Oops Upside Your Head.” It turns out that Minder Music, a publishing company that represents The Gap Band, agreed with that sentiment and put forth a claim on behalf of the group.
More than likely hoping to avoid a long drawn out court battle like the “Blurred Lines” case, The Gap Band (Ronnie, Robert, and Charlie Wilson), keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons were all given songwriter credits and will now receive a portion of the song’s proceeds. The five new songwriters will now join Ronson, Mars, Jeffrey Bhasker, Phillip Lawrence, Nicholas Williams (aka Trinidad James), and producer Devon Gallaspy ,whose production on “All Gold Everything” was sampled in the song, as official writers of “Uptown Funk.”
According to Danny Zook, who manages James and runs the sample clearing company Alien Music, the measure of adding the new songwriters was absolutely about not letting the matter be “decided by public opinion.”
“Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit,” Zook says. “Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, [if a jury is used], it is subject to be decided by public opinion — and no longer resolved based entirely on copyright law.”