George Clinton supports the quest for a new trial in the “Blurred Lines” case because he too believes the multi-million dollar judgment to be “wrong.” The funk icon knows a bit about copyright battles. For the last few decades, he’s been embroiled in a fight with Bridgeport Music over his own catalog.
The 73-year-old muses about Bridgeport, “Blurred Lines” and his belief in aliens in an interview with Vulture. Bridgeport, a Michigan-based music publishing company run by an ex-record producer, doesn’t have the cleanest reputation. The company contends that Clinton signed over the music in the early ‘80s, but Clinton says his signature was forged. “It’s crystal clear that there’s been a fraud committed throughout the courts for almost 35 years,” said Clinton. “I haven’t had a chance to have my day in court to say that. There’s been a bunch of legal maneuvers, and that’s why [my memoir] was written. I had to at least say my part of how I see it. It needs federal investigation. That’s how serious it is.”
Bridgeport owns music put out by Clinton between 1976 and 1983, including the Funkadelic staple "One Nation Under a Groove." “The legality of the situation is unbelievable,” he said of his most recent failed suit in 2013. “The accounting, the documentation on royalties — you can’t get any of that information right now. It’s like slavery. You can’t find out what you’re owed and, at the same time, you get sued by the same people that’s stealing from you and they’re using your money to sue you. You try to audit the amounts of money that’s due you, and all that’s withheld because they know it takes money to fight in court. I feel like I’m in slavery.”
Clinton’s music was briefly involved in the “Blurred Lines” roundabout. Bridgeport was named in the pre-emptive lawsuit filed by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams before it was decided that "Blurred Lines" didn’t infringe upon Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”
Siding with Thicke and Williams early on, Clinton now wants the appeal to go to the country's highest court. “I would hope that they appeal it to the Supreme Court," he said. "Because what do you do with reggae and go-go music? That’s music that relies on having the same riff.”
The master of the P-Funk Era will share more of his views at the Brooklyn Museum May 12 for “A Conversation With George Clinton,” presented by the Red Bull Music Academy.
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