Back in 2015, Marvin Gaye’s family won a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Robin Thicke, thanks to the claim that Thicke’s massive global hit “Blurred Lines” was too similar to Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up.” The two songs weren’t that similar musically, but Thicke had taken inspiration from Gaye, and that was apparently enough for the jury. Since then, there have been a ton of lawsuits based on vague musical similarities. And now we’ve got a veteran reggae artist suing Miley Cyrus because of the phrase “we run things, things don’t run we.”
As the Associated Press reports, Michael May, who performs as Flourgon, is suing Cyrus over her 2013 #2 hit “We Can’t Stop.” Flourgon claims that Cyrus infringed on his copyright by using the “we run things” phrase as part of the “We Can’t Stop” hook. Flourgon used that same line on his 1988 dancehall single “We Run Things,” which was a #1 hit in Jamaica. (The “we run things” line is a globally recognized catchphrase. Up until this morning, I thought that it came from the 1999 Jamaican movie Third World Cop, which also used it.) For that, Flourgon believes that 50% of “We Can’t Stop” comes from him and that he should get $300 million from Cyrus.
Now: “We Run Things,” which is a great song, sounds absolutely nothing like “We Can’t Stop,” which is not. The only thing that they have in common is that line. Here, listen to both songs:
Flourgon’s lawyer claims that “We Can’t Stop” “owes the basis of its chart-topping popularity to and its highly-lucrative success to plaintiff May’s protected, unique, creative and original content.” He’s filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.