Musical artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost the Marvin Gaye Blurred Lines case they were involved in, but they will contest the jury’s verdict of $7.4 million. They were both accused by Marvin Gaye’s children of having plagiarized Gaye’s song, Got to Give it Up, which was a hit in 1977, in the creation of their hit, Blurred Lines.
The jury heard expert testimony from a witness and they were apparently convinced by what they heard that Thicke, 38, and Williams, 41, plagiarized the Marvin Gaye song. However, the attorney for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, Howard King, stated that he thinks that the testimony should have been ruled inadmissible. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams continue to contend that Blurred Lines was an original song that they jointly created.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles U.S. District Court jury sided with the heirs of Marvin Gaye in their verdict. The jury found that at least some parts of Blurred Lines, which was a big hit for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in 2013, were plagiarized from the Marvin Gaye song, Got to Give it Up.
While Robin Thicke has admitted in magazine interviews that he had drawn on the feel of the Marvin Gaye Motown hit, he added that neither he nor Pharrell Williams copied any part of Gaye’s song, Got to Give it Up. The jury hearing the case disagreed, awarding Marvin Gaye’s children $4 million in actual damages along with an additional $3.4 million that the jury found Thicke and Williams earned from violating the song’s copyright.
According to attorney Howard King, his clients have decided to contest the hefty monetary verdict awarded to Marvin Gaye’s heirs because they feel “that they created ‘Blurred Lines’ from their own hearts and souls and no one else.” Also, King stated that Thicke and Pharrell Williams feel that “they owe it to the creative world to make sure this verdict does not stand.”
Howard King is requested through a motion that the judge who heard the case will set the verdict aside. If the judge refuses to do so, King said his clients would appeal the sizable verdict.
Howard King wants to contest the expert testimony of a musicologist because the testimony was not based on the actual sheet music of the Marvin Gaye song, but was based on elements in the recorded version that are not found in the sheet music. It is King’s contention that only the actual written music was registered and had a copyright, not the sound recordings.
King compared where the Marvin Gaye Blurred Lines plagiarism case was now as being like the seventh inning of a baseball game “that could go into extra innings.” He said that he and his clients will “exercise every post trial remedy we have to make sure this verdict does not stand.”
On Tuesday, the lawyer for the heirs of Marvin Gaye, Richard Busch, said he and his clients will seek an injunction to prevent any further copies of Blurred Lines from being distributed. Busch and Marvin Gaye’s heirs had originally asked for $25 million to be awarded them.
Besides the money that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams would have to cough up if the verdict of the jury in the Marvin Gaye Blurred Lines case is upheld, the verdict could have far-reaching consequences for other musical artists who might be wondering where does inspiration end, and plagiarism begin.
Pharrell Williams has been accused of his song, Happy, being too close to Marvin Gaye’s song Ain’t That Peculiar from 1965. It could be a very real possibility that the heirs of Marvin Gaye will next try going after Williams, accusing him of having plagiarized Ain’t That Peculiar, if the verdict in the Blurred Lines case stands.
Pharrell Williams has acknowledged, according to his and Robin Thicke’s attorney, Howard King, that “Marvin Gaye is one of his idols.” King contends that a musical artist might be another artist’s “idol,” but that does not necessarily mean that the influence exerted by the idolized musical artist will lead to deliberate plagiarism.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have lost the Marvin Gaye Blurred Lines case, and a jury awarded the heirs of Marvin Gaye $7.4 million. But, if the judge who heard the case does not set the verdict aside, Howard King and his clients will contest the verdict. It still might be quite some tim, if ever, before Marvin Gaye’s heirs see any money the jury awarded them.
Written By Douglas Cobb