Robin Thicke and Pharrell Were Just Found Guilty of Stealing "Blurred Lines"
On Tuesday afternoon, a Los Angeles jury found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell's 2013 song "Blurred Lines" infringed on Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up." The jury has been weighing the decision since closing statements were made on March 5. It took them fewer than two days of deliberation to award the Gaye estate nearly $7.4 million. "Blurred Lines" is ripped off.
On March 3, the court revealed that "Blurred Lines" has made $16,675,690 in profits since its release in March 2013. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Gaye estate claimed $40 million in damages. Rolling Stone reports that the Gaye estate wanted $25 million. In the end, they received just less than half the aforementioned profits. In addition to earning money by infringing on "Got to Give It Up," "Blurred Lines" gained a lot of that $16 million thanks to its blatant sexism.
Mic spoke to a musicologist close to the case shortly before the jury began their deliberations. "The problem with all copyright infringement cases is that things are not simple black and white," said Anthony Ricigliano. Since every song is different, he said, there's "no standard. Every case is different."
The jury was tasked with deciding "whether the ordinary, reasonable person would find the total concept and feel of the works to be substantially similar," copyright lawyer Howell O'Rear told Mic. Though copyright cases are often difficult to decide, the jury came back with a verdict rapidly. The songs do sound quite similar; before the trial, Thicke had, at times, acknowledged Gaye's influence.
What remains to be seen is whether Thicke and Pharrell will file an appeal, which Howell told Mic is very likely. But whatever ultimately happens, sales of Marvin Gaye's song are soaring. The better song won this one.
Updated March 10, 2015