by Alex Stedman, News Editor,
In a landmark decision for the songwriting industry, a jury in Los Angeles has ordered “Blurred Lines” songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay $7.3 million to the family of Marvin Gaye for copyright infringement.
Gaye’s family had argued that the 2013 smash hit “Blurred Lines” copied their father’s 1977 song “Got to Give Up” in the high-profile case, and sued Thicke, Williams and Clifford Harris Jr., a.k.a. T.I. The three had sought a jury determination that the song was not an infringement, and the Gaye family filed a counter-suit.
“Right now, I feel free,” Marvin Gaye’s daughter, Nona Gaye, said after the verdict. “Free from … Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
“Blurred Lines,” nominated for Record of the Year in 2013, was no. 1 on the Billboard single charts for a record 10 consecutive weeks. Since it was released, “Blurred Lines” has made nearly $16.5 million, with Williams and Thicke raking in over $5 million each. Overall, the family sought more than $25 million in damages. Gaye died in 1984.
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I’m pretty sure the cash amount will be reduced on appeal. With the pitiful per-play composer royalties on streaming media, plus modest physical sales of product, Blurred Lines would have had to sell tens of millions of iTune downloads to justify a $7.4 million jury award.
Also, the judge’s decision to prevent playing the Marvin Gaye song in court–relying instead on in-court bare-bones performance by a musician, seems odd and likely something an appeal court would look into.