Mar 11, 2015

Copyright Infringement - Lines Not So Blurred Now

Marvin Gaye's children have been awarded nearly $7.4m after a jury found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied their father's music to create Blurred Lines, the biggest song of 2013.

The verdict could tarnish the legacy of seven-time Grammy award winning Williams, who in recent times has become one of the most reliable hit-makers.  Giving evidence Williams testified he crafted the song in about an hour in mid-2012.  Williams told jurors that Gaye's music was part of the soundtrack of his youth but that he didn't use any of it to create Blurred Lines.

As we have previously reported that the trial was to be held to determine whether the hit song 'Blurred Lines' by Thicke, Williams and Junior infringed that of Marvin Gaye's 1977 song 'Got to give it up'.  Gaye died in April 1984, leaving his children the copyrights to his music.

The case was a struggle between two of music's biggest names: Williams has sold more than 100million records worldwide, and Gaye's hits such as Sexual Healing remain popular.

The Gayes' lawyer branded Williams and Thicke liars who went beyond trying to emulate the sound of Gaye's late-1970s music and copied the R&B legend's hit outright.  "They fought this fight despite every odd being against them," Busch said.

Howard King, lead attorney for Williams and Thicke, denied there were any substantial similarities between Blurred Lines and the sheet music Gaye submitted to obtain copyright protection and told the jury that a verdict in favour of the Gaye family would have a chilling effect on musicians who were trying to recreate a genre or homage to another artist's sound.

The trial focused on detailed analyses of chords and notes in both Blurred Lines and Got to Give It Up and jurors repeatedly heard  Blurred Lines and Gaye's music however Jurors did not hear Got to Give It Up as Gaye recorded it rather a version created based solely on sheet music submitted to gain copyright protection.

Busch called the version used in court a "Frankenstein-like monster" that didn't accurately represent Gaye's work but in spite of this the jury were still minded to find in favour of the Gayes'.

Gaye's children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – sued the singers in 2013 and were present when the verdict was read.  Nona Gaye wept as the verdict was being read.

"Right now, I feel free," Nona Gaye said after the verdict.

However, it may not yet be time for unbridled celebrations for the Gaye children as the verdict may yet face years of appeals.  We will keep you posted on any further updates.

in: Case Law, Copyright, News

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