Today, March 21, 2018, the Ninth Circuit US court upheld a verdict that claimed Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell Williams' "Blurred Lines" infringed Marvin Gaye's copyright on his classic "Got To Give It Up." The vote sustained the previous verdict against Thicke and Williams with a 2-1 vote, which holds them liable for $5.3 million in infringement compensation.
"In the closely watched music copyright infringement case, a panel of the 9th circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, upheld a jury verdict that Robin Thicke’s 'Blurred Lines' (the world’s best-selling single from 2013) infringed the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s song 'Got To Give It Up' from the 1970s. The Court’s decision is noteworthy in a couple of respects," J. Michael Keyes says, an intellectual property attorney at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm in California.
The US Circuit court was given a split decision. The appeals court judge stated that the tracks "differed in melody, harmony, and rhythm." She then stated that, "[it] strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere." The appeals court panel disagreed with the judge's comments. Additionally, the appeals court wholly removed T.I. of any infringement.
The $5.3 million will be broken up as such: $3,188,528 in damages, $1,768,192 in profits against Thicke, and $357,631 against Williams and More Water from Nazareth Publishing, the company that collects Williams' royalties. The Marvin Gaye Estate will also receive 50% of the songwriter and publishing royalties from "Blurred Lines" in the future.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen was not on-board with the ruling, stating that the Gaye family has "accomplish[ed] what no one has before: copyright a musical style."
"The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome. They shouldn't 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." -Judge Jacqueline Nguyen
The full, 89-page ruling can be found here.