"Blurred Lines" Infringes Marvin Gaye's Copyright - Court Rules
When Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released their controversial ‘Blurred Lines’ in 2013, they were accused of ripping off Marvin Gaye’s hit ‘Got to Give it Up’. However it was Williams and Thicke who brought the claim against Gaye’s estate, in an attempt to attain judicial confirmation that the song was not copyright infringement. They argued that the song simply had the same ‘vibe’ but was not a rip-off.
The jury ruled that the singers had committed copyright infringement. This decision was controversial, and many felt it set a dangerous precedent. Williams and Thicke did attempt to appeal the judgment but the original decision was upheld. One judge in the appeals court opposed the ruling saying that it ‘establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere’. The deadline has now expired for this case to be taken to the Supreme Court.
Last week it was confirmed that Williams, his publishing company (More Water from Nazareth) and Thicke are liable to pay almost $5million dollars to Marvin Gaye’s estate in damages. In addition to this, 50% of all future royalties on the song will also go to the estate. The Gaye family attempted to obtain an injunction preventing any further distribution of the song, but this was declined.
Should creators be able to make something that is strongly influenced by their heroes? Or is this just a form of stealing someone else’s work? The line is blurry.