dolly parton turns 70
Dolly Parton accepting an award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame 32nd Annual Awards at Sheraton New York Hotel, 2001 Getty Images

With a recent surge in plagiarism cases involving high-profile musicians, it is safe to say that the landmark Blurred Lines case has set a precedent in the entertainment industry. Now, music legend Dolly Parton has weighed in on the current debate over infringement and artistic inspiration.

Speaking to the BBC, the 9 to 5 songstress defended the artistes accused of theft, insisting that stars including Ed Sheeran and Led Zeppelin never intentionally plagiarised, suggesting they may have been subconsciously influenced. "I don't believe that any of the people who get sued intentionally set out to do it," she argues.

"If you write all the time, you're going to collect those things and not know it," she said. "I'm always horrified of that. If something sounds familiar, I think, 'Oh my goodness, what is that?' Then I'll track it down and, in my case, it's usually just one of my own songs!"

However, she does believe that writers who do infringe copyright "should pay up".

In 2015, a federal court awarded Marvin Gaye's estate and his three children nearly $7.4m (£4.9m) in damages after ruling that the producer and Robin Thicke had plagiarised the late soul singer's chart-topping Got To Give It Up.

While Led Zeppelin recently won a case accusing them of stealing the opening notes of Stairway To Heaven from Taurus, a 1967 track by the band Spirit, Sheeran is currently at the centre of two copyright cases, over the songs Photograph and Thinking Out Loud from his second studio album, X.

In 1985 Parton, who has penned hits for the likes of Jessica Simpson, Miley Cyrus and the late Whitney Houston, accused of copying Neil and Jan Goldberg's song Money World on her hit single 9 to 5. A jury threw out the claim after deliberating for 35 minutes, saying they could find "no similarity" in the two songs.

The country music icon admitted that inadvertently copying somebody else is one of her greatest fears. The 70-year-old star said: "I always worry about it so much when I write. You don't set out to try and steal anything, but it can happen."

As music lawyer Robert Horsfall, of Sound Advice, previously told IBTimes UK, the plagiarism cases will continue. "I've been a lawyer now for 30 odd years and a phrase was thrown to me at the beginning of my career and is still repeated today: 'Where there's a hit, there's a writ'.

"That's always been the case and will continue to be. George Harrison's song My Sweet Lord was accused of plagiarising a song by The Chiffons called He's So Fine in the 1960s. A publisher friend of mine predicts there will be more cases rather than less in the coming years."