Jury Decides Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ Is Guilty of Copyright Infringement
Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.’s 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines,” was a lot of things -- infuriating, sexist and overplayed all come to mind -- but was it guilty of outright ripping off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song, “Got to Give It Up”?
According to a Los Angeles jury, yes.
In a decision made today (March 10), the jury ordered that Thicke and Williams pay $7.3 million in royalties to the late Marvin Gaye’s family and estate for copyright infringement. Since its release, Thicke and Williams have garnered approximately $5 million each from the track.
During the two-week trial, both Thicke and Williams appeared in court to deliver testimonies, with the former even performing a medley of Beatles, U2 and Michael Jackson songs to argue his case. Williams, during his own testimony, got to the crux of the case when he said that “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” share a “feel” and “not infringement” (via Variety).
As such, the decision will have a serious impact on songwriters going forward, who run the risk of copyright infringement when creating songs that bear any resemblance -- or even a “feel” -- to their predecessors.
In that vein, Thicke and Williams’ lawyer Howard King’s closing statement cautioned jurors, saying that “the wrong decision here will stifle musicians and the record companies that finance them [in signifying] that you cannot honor a genre, a style or a groove … This is more important than money. This affects the creativity of young musicians” (via Billboard).
After the decision was announced, Marvin Gaye’s children expressed their satisfaction with the outcome.
“Right now, I feel free,” Gaye’s daughter, Nona Gaye, said. “Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and... the lies that were told.”
Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, praised the decision as a “wonderful day for artists and music” (via Pamela Chelin).
A spokesperson from Williams’ camp offered this statement, alluding that an appeal may be in the works:
While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward. Pharrell created "Blurred Lines" from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.