(May 4, 2015) Billboard Magazine reported today that Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson of The Gap Band have now received both songwriting credit and a share of royalties for the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit, “Uptown Funk” – the biggest song of 2015, with sales of over 5 million copies.
Back in March, we reported that Charlie Wilson stated during an interview with WBLS in New York that the Gap Band would be seeking compensation and credit for what they felt was appropriation by “Uptown Funk” of parts of their song “Oops Upside the Head.” As Wilson then said, “The musicologist came back and said it was ‘Oops Upside The Head’ and now they have to pay.” Both the opening of “Uptown Funk” and the rap later in the song (around 2:45) do share elements with the 1979 Gap Band smash – though the line between “misappropriated’ and “inspired by” here is…umm…kind of blurred (pun intended).
They say that success has a lot of parents, and “Uptown Funk’s” lineage seems to grow by the day. What was originally a composition credited to Ronson, Mars, Phillip Martin Lawrence and Jeffrey Bhasker, was later expanded to include Nicholas Williams (aka Trinidad James)/Devon Gallaspy for the song’s similarity to the Trinidad James hit “All Gold Everything” (especially the repeated phrase “Don’t believe me just watch.”). Now with The Gap Band credit, songwriting royalties will be split into six equal portions. (Does anybody think that The Time or ZAPP will be calling next?).
There is little doubt that this settlement is, in part, a reaction to the verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams – in favor of Marvin Gaye’s heirs – in the “Blurred Lines” case. It has made the music industry much more concerned about both negative publicity and large verdicts if a song is deemed to be derivative of another. So, we expect that we’ll continue to see many more out-of-court settlements like “Uptown Funk.” And, for better or worse, we’ll probably also see more and more cases hitting the courts.
Source: Soul Tracks