Credit boom as hitmakers look to avoid lawsuits

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NEW YORK—What do Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and the Chainsmokers’ “Closer” have in common?Yes, they dominated the charts, sold millions of singles and achieved international success in the last two years. But all three smashes also extended writing credit to older songs after they were compared to earlier hits.More and more, artists are giving that credit in the wake of the “Blurred Lines” case, where Robin Thicke and Pharrell were ordered to pay $5.3 million (all figures U.S.) last year to Marvin Gaye’s children after a judge said “Blurred Lines” copied their father’s hit “Got to Give It Up.” The decision is being appealed.Ed Sheeran is currently in a legal battle over his slow burner “Thinking Out Loud,” a monster hit in 2015. The family of Ed Townsend, the co-writer of Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” claimed Sheeran’s song sounds too much like the soul classic. Producer Jake Gosling and co-writer Amy Wadge are also named in the suit.“The song was written by Ed and Amy and that song was completely far away, not even close to what we were doing when (‘Thinking Out Loud’) was recorded and I’m sure when they wrote it … I was very surprised and a bit shocked by it,” Gosling, a frequent Sheeran collaborator, said of the lawsuit. “I think the claim is ridiculous and really doesn’t have any standing in terms of what that song is about.”Article Continued BelowSheeran’s lawyers are attempting to dismiss the case.Other acts, though, have worked it out outside of the courtroom.The Chainsmokers’ Grammy-nominated “Closer” — the longest running No. 1 song of the year with 12 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart — recently added writing credit for Isaac Slade and Joe King of the rock band the Fray; some said “Closer” sounded like 2005’s “Over My Head (Cable Car).”

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