An appeals court has upheld a $5.3 million judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copying a Marvin Gaye song to create their 2013 smash “Blurred Lines.”
In addition, the family will receive 50% of future royalties from ‘Blurred Lines’.
Yet one judge dissented from the verdict, saying the two songs “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm”.
Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen added that the ruling “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.
In the original 2015 trial, a jury found that Blurred Lines had copied Gaye’s 1973 hit Got To Give It Up – despite many observers claiming the songs were only similar in feel, rather than composition.
Thicke, Williams and rapper TI, who contributed a verse to the track, launched an appeal in 2016 and were backed by 212 fellow songwriters, among them John Oates, Jason Mraz and members of Linkin Park.
They argued the verdict “threaten[ed] to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.”
By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” deserved “broad” copyright protection.
Also, the March 2015 jury verdict in favor of Gaye’s three children could stand because there was “not an absolute absence of evidence” of similarity between the two songs.