Blurred Lines: Marvin Gaye's family keeps $5m payout

From BBC - March 22, 2018

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied one of Marvin Gaye's songs to create their 2013 smash Blurred Lines, an appeal court has ruled.

The court upheld a 2015 verdict against the stars, which means Gaye's family will get to keep a $5m (3.5m) payout.

In addition, the family will receive 50% of future royalties from Blurred Lines.

Yet one judge dissented from the verdict, saying the two songs "differed in melody, harmony and rhythm".

Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen added that the ruling "strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere".

In the original 2015 trial, a jury found that Blurred Lines had copied Gaye's 1973 hit Got To Give It Up - despite many observers claiming the songs were only similar in feel, rather than composition.

Thicke, Williams and rapper TI, who contributed a verse to the track, launched an appeal in 2016 and were backed by 212 fellow songwriters, among them John Oates, Jason Mraz and members of Linkin Park.

They argued the verdict "threaten[ed] to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works."

But the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the decision, while clearing TI - real name Clifford Harris Jr - of any copyright infringement.

The judges rejected Williams and Thicke's request to order a new trial, saying Gaye's copyright was entitled to broad protection.

They also accepted the original judge's decision to instruct the jury to reach their verdict based only on the sheet music to the songs and not the recordings.

You can see the full ruling here.

Wednesday's decision prompted a strong dissent from Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen.

She said the decision let the Gayes "accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style" and expanded the potential for further copyright litigation.

"The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome," she wrote. "They should not be.

"They own copyrights in many musical works, each of which (including Got To Give It Up) now potentially infringes the copyright of any famous song that preceded it.

'A victory for musicians'

'Horrible precedent'


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