A California jury has reached a verdict in the case between the family of the late Marvin Gaye and the creators of 2013 song Blurred Lines, ordering Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to pay USD$7.3 million to Gaye’s family for copying elements of his 1977 song Got To Give It Up.
Gaye’s family sued Thicke, Williams and Blurred Lines costar T.I. for copyright infringement in 2013.
As Billboard reports, Williams and Thicke appeared in court this week to state their case, with comparisons of the two songs in question occurring within the courtroom.
Listening to the bass lines of the two songs, Williams said he could hear the similarities. Williams reportedly said in court, “It sounds like you’re playing the same thing.”
Williams testified about the process behind Blurred Lines, saying the song channels “that ’70s feeling”, adding that he looks up to Marvin Gaye.
“The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else’s when you love him,” Williams said.
During the case, Thicke was drilled over revelations that he lied in media interviews and was drunk and high on Vicodin during the writing and recording of Blurred Lines. In court, however, he tried to show how many popular songs can be easily tied together, singing a medley of U2’s With Or Without You, The Beatles’ Let It Be, Alphaviller’s Forever Young, Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry and Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror.
Lawyers for the Gaye family employed musicologists to testify on the similarities between the two songs, focusing specifically on signature phrases, hooks, keyboard-bass interplay, lyrics and themes.
The Gayes asked for some of the USD $11 million in touring income attributable to Blurred Lines, as well as money for overhead costs and statutory damages for willful infringement. In total, the family were seeking over USD $25 million, but have been granted USD $7.3 million after the eight-person jury ruled in their favour.
Blurred Lines was a massive hit upon release, and has raked in more than USD $16.7 million in profit. Thankfully, as The Wrap reports, the trial has almost doubled sales of Got To Give It Up in recent weeks.
Compare the two songs for yourself, below.
UPDATE 11/03/15: Blurred Lines co-creators Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper T.I. have hit back with a joint statement saying that today’s plagiarism ruling “sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward”.
UPDATE 20/03/15: Pharrell Williams has warned that the Blurred Lines verdict will kill creativity. He has also said that he and Thicke are still figuring out their legal options.