Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have lost the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, and will have to pay a whopping $7.3 million to the Marvin Gaye estate in damages, Rolling Stone reports.
It’s been more than a year since the estate first approached Thicke and Williams over their hit “Blurred Lines,” seeking $25 million in damages (from song publishing, overall profits, and record company shares). The Gaye estate threatened legal action, claiming the song was a copyright violation of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
Williams and Thicke sued first, insisting that their song was “strikingly different” to Gaye’s, as well as Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.” Funkadelic’s song was dropped soon after, because the two sides managed to reach an agreement.
The Gaye estate eventually expanded their complaint, insisting that Thicke also created songs on his 2011 album, Love After War, that were too close to Gaye’s “I Want You” and “After the Dance.” Included with their evidence were several interviews Thicke did in the past two years, in which he mentioned liking Gaye’s music and telling Williams that he wanted them to create a song with the same “groove.”
In his deposition last year, Thicke said he was drunk and high on Vicodin while recording “Blurred Lines,” and that Williams did most of the work during its production.
The trial began last month, and Thicke performed “Got to Give It Up” and “Blurred Lines” alongside hits by U2, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson–his intent being to show the jury that the chord progressions were all very similar. The estate were only allowed to play a “stripped-down version” of their song in comparison, since they were fighting for the composition copyright, not the recording.
Earnings for “Blurred Lines” were revealed to the public because the estate wanted a portion of revenue, as well as any money earned from touring. Thicke earned about $5.6 million, Williams about $5.2 million, and rapper T.I. about $700,000. Record companies divided the rest, but the total was nearly $17 million when combined.
Williams testified that their song had a similar “feel” to Gaye’s, but that he wasn’t thinking about it as he was writing, but that he had written “every lyric and melody.”
No doubt about it, this may just transform the way people view “influence” when it comes to music. What’s stealing and what’s paying homage to the ones who came before us?