On Tuesday, a Los Angeles jury found that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s infectious 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single “Got to Give It Up,” awarding $7.4 million to Gaye’s family.
The decision arrives after over a week’s worth of testimony—not to mention over a year’s worth of speculation—about the similarities between the songs. Thicke did not help the comparisons by volunteering that “Blurred Lines” was inspired by the 1977 Gaye song in an interview with GQ back in May 2013: “[O]ne of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove’ . . .Then [Pharrell] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it. The whole thing was done in a couple hours.”
Since that interview, Thicke has back-pedaled, claiming that he was “high on Vicodin and alcohol” throughout the recording sessions. The L.A. Times suggests, however, that this admission did not win Thicke any sympathy votes from jurors.
Thicke, during his turn on the stand, played a medley of pop songs on a keyboard to demonstrate that many of them share the same chord progression and can sound similar. He painted a less-than-flattering portrait of himself, saying he’d lied repeatedly in interviews and in sworn legal documents, trying to claim credit for part of writing the song that had become the biggest hit of his career by far.
Busch, the Gayes’ attorney, cautioned jurors: “Keep in mind at all times, these people are professional performers.”
According to Billboard, the “Blurred Lines” team will have “to pay $4 million in copyright damages plus profits attributable to infringement, which for Thicke was determined to be $1.8 million and for Williams was determined to be $1.6 million—a total of $7.4 million.” (Last week, it was uncovered that Thicke made $5,658,214 off of sales “Blurred Lines” sales while Williams made $5,153,457.)
The jury ruled that T.I.—who went by his real name Clifford Harris in the courtroom—did not infringe on the Gaye copyright in spite of a co-writing credit he has on the song.
Since the jury’s decision, Pharrell, Thicke, and T.I. have released a joint statement suggesting that they might try to appeal.
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