When you cross the "Blurred Lines" of copyrights, you've Got to Give it Up
On March 10, 2015, a jury in Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke infringed copyrights belonging to the offspring of Marvin Gaye, including Marvin Gaye, III, Frankie Christian Gaye, and Nona Marvisa Gaye.
Williams and Thicke composed the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” which the jury found infringed the copyright for Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” The jury saw it fit to award substantial damages to the Gaye family, awarding $4,000,000 in actual damages to the Gayes, and separately found that Williams made profits in the amount of $1,610,455.31 attributable to his infringement while Thicke made profits in the amount of 1,768,191.88 attributable to his infringement. Notably, Marvin Gaye’s musical composition for “After the Dance” was found not to be infringed by Robin Thicke’s composition “Love After War.” Clifford Harris Jr. (the artist “TI”) was also a party to the lawsuit and was found not to infringe Marvin Gaye’s copyrights.
Marvin Gaye died in 1984 and the initial suit was filed by Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and Clifford Harris, Jr. as a declaratory judgment action after receiving cease and desist letters from the Gaye family in 2013.