Jury ruled that the 2013 hit was too much like Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” The copyright dispute between “Blurred Lines” song creators Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, and the family of Marvin Gaye, will continue on to a higher court. Earlier this year, Gaye’s family said in court that Williams and Thicke stole critical elements from Gaye’s 1977 song “Got To Give It Up” for their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.”
A jury agreed with Gaye’s family and awarded them $7.4 million, which was later reduced to $5.3 million. Now, Williams and Thicke are looking to appeal (PDF) that decision in the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals. The case was unusual because in a pre-trial hearing, the judge ruled that the applicable 1909 copyright law only covered sheet music, not the song’s actual sound. The judge later reversed his decision, ordering Williams and Thicke’s lawyers to produce an audio recording of “Got To Give It Up” that only included a bass line and keyboard chords underneath some vocals from Gaye.
This was the only version of “Got To Give It Up” that the jury was permitted to hear to compare with “Blurred Lines.” Interviews given by Thicke and Williams before the lawsuit also didn’t help their case in front of the jury. Thicke repeatedly said in interviews with news outlets that Williams said he wanted to write something like “Got To Give It Up.” Williams maintained that he was influenced by Gaye’s music but never infringed on it. Thicke testified that he’d been drunk and high when he gave those interviews.
The appeal from Thicke and Williams will also include rapper T.I. (also known as Clifford Harris Jr.), who is featured on the “Blurred Lines” track. The jury originally ruled that T.I. was not liable for copyright infringement, but Gaye’s family filed a motion after the ruling asking the judge to hold T.I. liable. The judge agreed with that assessment in July, ruling that T.I. was partially responsible for infringement.
In addition, the Gaye family asked the judge to block all sales and performances of “Blurred Lines” until the family could negotiate how much they would make off of royalties from the song. In July, the judge ruled that the Gaye family could not block “Blurred Lines,” but he said that the family was entitled to 50 percent of all royalties made from the song in the future. An attorney for Marvin Gaye’s family, Paul Philips, told TheWrap, “we remain confident that the appeal will have no merit, and when it fails, the Thicke / Williams camp will find themselves faced with the same judgment they’re facing today.”