Entertainment & Arts

Uptown Funk credits Oops Up Side Your Head writers

Bruno Mars (centre) in the video for Uptown Funk Image copyright Columbia Records
Image caption Uptown Funk, which features vocals by Bruno Mars (centre), was released in early December

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have given The Gap Band a writing credit on their huge hit Uptown Funk, due to its similarities with their 1979 track Oops Up Side Your Head.

Uptown Funk, which topped the UK chart for seven weeks and the US chart for 14, originally had six songwriters.

The five writers of The Gap Band's hit were added earlier this week, according to RCA documents seen by Billboard.

It's said to have followed a claim from publisher Minder Music on their behalf.

The much-publicised Blurred Lines court case in March saw a jury order the track's writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, to pay Marvin Gaye's estate $7.4m (£4.8m) in damages because of its similarities with Gaye's 1977 hit Got to Give It Up.

Uptown Funk's original writers were listed as Ronson and Mars, plus co-producer Jeffrey Bhasker and Phillip Lawrence from Mars' production team The Smeezingtons.

Nicholas Williams - aka rapper Trinidad James - and producer Devon Gallaspy also got a credit for the use of a sample of James' track All Gold Everything.

They have now been joined by the five writers of The Gap Band's hit: band members Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson and keyboardist Rudolph Taylor, plus producer Lonnie Simmons.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pharrell Williams (left) and Robin Thicke's track Blurred Lines prompted a high-profile court case

Billboard said a lawyer for James's manager Danny Zook agreed the Blurred Lines case may have influenced the Uptown Funk writers' decision.

"Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit," he told Billboard.

It is believed the claim from Minder Music was filed with YouTube's content management system in February.

'Dangerous precedent'

Vick Bain, CEO of The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), told the BBC that original songwriters "absolutely deserve proper credit".

"However it does get very blurred when people take inspiration," said Ms Bain.

"We can understand why Ronson and Mars wanted to avoid a very expensive court case, but I'm sure they would not have given credit if they hadn't felt that would be the right thing to do."

Ms Bain said BASCA hoped all songwriters could avoid expensive court cases in the future, with the Blurred Lines case setting a "dangerous precedent".

"One of our members, who is an expert musicologist, he looked at it and said, 'in this country they wouldn't have won'," she continued - referring to the way the jury made its decision based on sheet music of Gaye's hit.

Echoing the comments of Pharrell Williams after the verdict, she said: "It sets a very sad and dangerous precedent, because all composers and all songwriters for hundreds of years have been influenced by everyone around them. So I really hope it doesn't stifle creativity."

In January, Sam Smith agreed to pay Tom Petty songwriting royalties for his single Stay With Me, because of its similarities to Petty's 1989 track I Won't Back Down.

A spokesman for Smith said the singer "acknowledged the similarity" but said the likeness was "a complete coincidence".

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