R’n’B musicians Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been ordered to pay over $7million to the family of the late soul artist Marvin Gaye, after ruling that their Grammy nominated hit single ‘Blurred Lines’ copied one of Gaye’s tracks.
The family of Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984, have been awarded $7.3m (£4.8m) in damages, after the court ruled that there were too many similarities between ‘Blurred Lines’ and Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got to Give It Up’.
After his death, Gaye left the copyright to his music to his three children, Frankie, Nona, and Marvin. Along with the Gaye family lawyer Richard Busch, they have recently tried to stop all distribution of ‘Blurred Lines’ until an agreement about how the royalties will be shared in the future was met. Busch said that “We'll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of Blurred Lines unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared.”
Marvin Gaye’s wife Janis spoke of the trial, claiming that it was a very emotional time leading to the verdict being read, claiming that her “heart started pounding”, but that she ‘still had faith that the verdict was going to go [her] way”.
Gaye family lawyer Busch called Williams and Thicke liars, before accusing them of outright copying ‘Got to Give It Up’. Williams has admitted that he grew up listening to the music of Gaye, and has acknowledged that there is a likeness between the two songs - but maintains that he simply drew influence when he wrote the song, stating that he was trying “to channel that late 70’s feeling”, and denied copying the hit. Thicke stated he had minimal input into the writing of the song.
Thicke and Williams are thought to have earned around $5m (£3m) each from the hit, which was the highest earning song of 2013.
The duo’s lawyer, Howard E King, was extremely unhappy with the decision. “While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today”, he said, before adding that the decision “sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward”, and that it would have a “chilling effect on musicians who were trying to pay homage to another artist’s sound”.
King said that he and his clients are “reviewing the decision and considering [their] options”. It is thought that Williams and Robin Thicke will appeal against the verdict.