Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ hit single of 2013 – “Blurred Lines” – was found by a federal jury to infringe the musical composition of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” song. The jury awarded Gaye’s children damages to the tune of over $7 million.
Thicke and Williams maintained their position throughout trial that Gaye’s copyright protection only extended to the musical elements contained on Gaye’s sheet music that was registered with the Copyright Office. Gaye’s children do not own the copyright to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” sound recording, but rather Universal Music Group. As a result, the Gayes were prohibited from playing Gaye’s song to the jury.
Despite not hearing Gaye’s sound recording, the jury sided with the Gaye children, finding substantial similarities between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up,” and thus, copyright infringement.
While the jury only found Thicke and Williams liable for infringement, Gaye’s children recently asked the court to also find rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris (a co-writer) and the Universal Music Group liable for infringement. The family also wants injunctive relief to put a halt on all sales of “Blurred Lines.” Apparently, Gaye’s children hope to use the injunction to negotiate an agreement with Thicke, Pharell, and Universal to include Gaye as a writer of “Blurred Lines” so Gaye can share ownership in the copyright and receive future proceeds from the song.
It will be interesting to see how the court deals with Gaye’s children’s request to broaden the scope of the “clear lines” drawn by the jury on infringement and liability.