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Blog

Jury Says Thicke, Pharrell 'Got to Give It Up' Over Blurred Lines

March 26, 2015

Blog

Jury Says Thicke, Pharrell 'Got to Give It Up' Over Blurred Lines

March 26, 2015

Back to Fish's Trademark and Copyright Blog

 

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.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors on the date noted above and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fish & Richardson P.C., any other of its lawyers, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This post is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed.

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Copyright Lawyer
Nancy Ly | Associate

Nancy Ly has managed the global brand strategy for diverse clients ranging from start-ups to multinational corporations, spanning a wide range of industries. She has particular experience in trade dress disputes and serves as a member of INTA’s non-traditional marks committee. Clients choose Nancy because of her broad experience; she...

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