Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke may have made a pretty penny on their monster hit, “Blurred Lines,” but now they’ll be giving some of the money back after a jury decided that the track copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single “Got To Give It Up.” The ruling followed two weeks in court in Los Angeles and means the singers will pay the late singer’s family $7.4 million in damages for the 2013 song.
Robin, who performed the song, and producer Pharrell denied the claims, with their lawyer saying the ruling set a “horrible precedent”.
Marvin’s three children Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – who were given copyright to his music following his death in 1984 – were in court as the jury’s unanimous ruling was read out. Nona wept following the verdict.
“Right now I feel free,” she told reporters. “Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
In court, Pharrell had said that Marvin’s music had played a big part of his childhood, but insisted it was not on his mind when he wrote the song. He did concede there was a likeness between the tracks, and agreed he was “channelling… that late 70s vibe”.
Robin, meanwhile, testified that he had contributed very little to the writing of Blurred Lines. He said he had previously exaggerated his involvement in writing the song, and it was written by Pharrell who came up with it in just an hour.
On the witness stand, Robin was given a keyboard and tried to show how many songs have similarities, singing parts of Let It Be by the Beatles, Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson, and No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley.
“While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward,” the pair’s lawyer commented. “We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more for us soon about this matter.”
The court heard that Blurred Lines made more than $16million profit – $5.6million went to Robin, and $5.2million to Pharrell, and most of the rest to record companies. The record companies, along with rapper TI who performed on the song, were not found to have been involved in the copyright infringement.