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Marvin Gaye’s family wins appeal in “Blurred Lines” lawsuit

KC Orcutt

 // Mar 22, 2018

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The success of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams' certified hit collaboration, "Blurred Lines," hasn't been without ongoing controversy and debate.

Since its 2013 release, the pair has been sent to court on multiple occasions due to claims that their track illegally borrows from Marvin Gaye's 1977 single, "Got to Give It Up." Both Thicke and Williams have disagreed with the alleged copyright infringement claims, but earlier today (March 21) the appeals court sided on behalf of the Gaye family and the late soul singer's estate.

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As reported, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict from the original trial, which ended in March 2015, that "Blurred Lines" did in fact illegally borrow from Gaye's single.

The court ruled that the estate is entitled to 50% of all ongoing royalties from the song, as well as that Thicke and Williams will have to pay the Gaye estate $5.3 million as a result of the infringement. Additionally, T.I., who contributed one verse to the single, wasn't found to be personally liable in the case.

As reported, during the litigation process, the songs were compared based on the sheet music alone, and not on the substance nor the recording.

"The majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style," dissenting Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote. "'Blurred Lines' and 'Got to Give It Up' are not objectively similar. They differ in melody, harmony, and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere."

Howard King, an attorney for Williams and Thicke, also offered a statement, adding, "We stand by the fact that these are two entirely different songs. The thorough and well-reasoned dissenting judge's opinion is compelling and enhances the prospects for success in a further review by the Court of Appeals."

To date, at least 212 artists have voiced their support of Thicke and Williams, including Jennifer Hudson, Earth Wind & Fire, Aloe Blacc, Linkin Park, Jason Mraz, John Oates (of Hall & Oates) and R. Kelly, among hundreds of others.

Many have expressed that the court ruling establishes a dangerous precedent that could have a negative impact on the future of music composition and songwriting at large, especially given the fact that the laws regarding this matter are unclear and can harm the creative process of today's artists.

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