Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have argued a “groove” cannot be copyrighted as they continue to fight allegations their “Blurred Lines” was lifted from a Marvin Gaye song. The stars have been challenging a 2015 ruling they illegally sampled Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” tune from 1977, which landed the late soul icon’s heirs Nona and Frankie Gaye millions in damages.
During the Los Angeles trial, the musicians denied the infringement allegations but openly admitted to being inspired by Gaye’s work, and in their latest filing, their attorneys insist the two tracks are only similar in the “feeling” listeners get when they hear the tunes – and that cannot be protected under copyright law. “A ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot be copyrighted, and inspiration is not copying,” reads a brief filed on Monday (April 24).
They are also asking appeals court officials to determine whether the original case judge, John Kronstadt, was correct in sending the dispute to trial instead of issuing a summary judgment. Thicke and Williams are seeking a reversal of the 2015 judgment or a retrial in a lower court, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Gayes’ attorneys insist the songwriters do not deserve the opportunity to appeal or try the case again. The late soul legend’s kids were initially awarded a slice of a $7.4 million verdict, but the figure was later trimmed down to $5.3 million, before the defendants launched their appeal.
Musicians seek to overturn controversial copyright infringement verdict from last year. Get ready for another verse in the battle over “Blurred Lines.” “Blurred” writers Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. (a.k.a. T.I.) filed their opening brief in the appeal on Tuesday, claiming that a “cascade of legal errors” marred the initial trial. In a controversial verdict last year, a jury ordered Williams and Thicke to pay $7.4 million, after determining that their 2013 song infringed on the 1977 Marvin Gaye tune “Got To Give It Up.”
The new brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, states, “‘Blurred Lines’ is not substantially similar to ‘Got To Give It Up’ as a matter of law.” The “Blurred Lines” team contends that the two songs should have been compared in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1909, which deems that copyright extends only to sheet music, not sound recordings. The 1909 Act was later supplanted by the 1976 Copyright Act, which allows for comparisons of sound recordings, though lawyers for Williams and Thicke maintain that “Got To Give It Up” was created before the later act went into effect.
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.
The legendary Nile Rodger joins Sway In The Morning to drop musical gems as he speaks on the legacy of Chic, Pharrell and Blurred Lines Lawsuit, check it out from 8:35.
In the months following a ruling that determined Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” in their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines“, many have questioned how the case will affect future compositions. In speaking with The Financial Times in March, Williams said the decision “handicaps” any artist who makes something out of inspiration of a previous creation.
“If we lose our freedom to be inspired, we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation,” he said. Last month, British music producer Mark Ronson added an additional five writing credits to his chart-topping hit “Uptown Funk” in response to The Gap Band claiming similarities between the track and their 1979 funk anthem “Oops, Up Side Your Head.” So has the “Blurred Lines” case forever altered the music business for musicians? The answer, according to legendary musician-producer Nile Rodgers, is no.
There’s been yet another twist in the long-running ‘Blurred Lines‘ saga. Following a US District Court’s decision in March that the song’s writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, had copied Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’, the pair’s lawyers are now pushing for a new trial. As pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter, Thicke and Williams‘ legal teams submitted a new motion on Friday (May 1), citing errors in jury instructions, improper testimony from a musicologist and insufficient evidence to support the initial ruling.
Among the issues to be raised by Pharrell’s legal team was the judge’s pre-trial decision that Gaye’s copyright didn’t go beyond the sheet music, meaning Thicke’s testimony on how the the “groove” of ‘Got To Give It Up‘ influenced ‘Blurred Lines‘ should not have been heard by the jury as it was “prejudicial and irrelevant” information, as was musicologist Judith Finell’s opinion on the similarity of the songs.
By Stony Kool. Paula Patton is not happy that Robin Thicke was ordered to pay the Marvin Gaye family for copyright infringement for his biggest hit, “Blurred Lines.” As a matter of fact, Patton says she is “incredibly pissed off that Marvin Gaye‘s estate was awarded the money.”
Robin Thicke who recently lost a major copyright battle over his hit song “Blurred Lines” to the family of Motown legend Marvin Gaye. Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams were ordered to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye $7.3 million for reportedly copying “Got To Give It Up ” to make “Blurred Lines.” Thicke and Williams plan to appeal the judgment.
There are lots of reasons to not like the song “Blurred Lines.” But copyright infringement isn’t a very good one. The song was everywhere in 2013, breaking records and inspiring praise, criticism and parodies. In March, it was back in the headlines for a lawsuit brought against its creators, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. While the singers argued that their smash single was merely a musical love child of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up,” the Gaye family deemed “Blurred Lines” a musical clone. And on March 10, a jury agreed. The verdict: Thicke and Williams didn’t merely riff off of “Got To Give It Up,” the jury ruled that they ripped it off, to a tune of nearly $7.4 million in damages.
Musicologists testifying for the Gaye family identified eight “substantial similarities” in the songs, including similar catchy phrases or hooks, similar rhythms and melodic patterns and substantially similar percussion choices. It’s true that the songs aren’t wildly different to the ear. But legal and music scholars have since argued that all music builds on other music and that the verdict will have a chilling effect on artistic expression. That may be, but forensic scientists will tell you there’s a different reason to criticize the verdict: A careful analysis of the songs suggests they aren’t that alike at all.
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