Songs Accused of Plagiarism That Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100

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The line between inspiration and infringement can get blurred.

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Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke perform onstage during the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Lucian Grainge at The Beverly Hilton on January 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.Whether by coincidence, osmosis, common ancestry or, you know, theft, there are plenty of hit songs that sound strangely similar to pre-existing material… or do they? Enter the lawsuit.

As recorded music became big business over the 20th century (and new technology made it easier to track song authorship and a writer’s exposure to previous material), copyright lawsuits became a regular occurrence in the music industry. But the litigation really took off in the 2010s, after a landmark lawsuit between the estate of Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over “Blurred Lines” made things a bit more muddled (or blurred, if you will).

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