UPDATED March 11th :
A Los Angeles jury has decided that one of the biggest selling singles of all time, “Blurred Lines”, was a direct breach of copyright of the 1977 song by Marvin Gaye, “Got To Give It Up”. The family and estate of Marvin Gaye have been awarded $7.4 million in the settlement.
In a statement made the lawyer representing both Thicke and Williams said the ruling has set a “horrible precedent”, while both the pop stars deny copying the work of Marvin Gaye.
In a weird twist, the Gaye’s family lawyer has told the Rolling Stone that he’s pursuing action to halt the sales of “Blurred Lines” moving forward, stating, “We’ll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of ‘Blurred Lines’ unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared”.
The current copyright holders for the late Marvin Gaye’s works are his children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – who inherited the copyrights upon Gaye’s death in 1984.
“Right now, I feel free,” Nona told reporters after the ruling. “Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
In court Williams admitted that he recognized the similarities in the song and agreed that he was “channelling… that late-70s feeling”, while Thicke admitted that he had contributed very little to the actual composition of the work.
The legal battle itself was one of the most interesting copyright cases in recent memory as financial details surrounding the release, which are normally very carefully guarded secrets, were publicly disclosed as a matter of the courts proceedings. Making this even more interesting is the fact that “Blurred Lines” was arguably the most popular song of 2013, and thus was probably the most financially successful, raking in $16,675,690.
As primary artists Pharrell and Thicke both took home $5,658,214, while T.I. received $704.774 for his verse. The rest of $5,159,245 was split between Interscope, UMG Distrobution, and Star Trak. However, the most interesting of the whole financial disclosure was that Universal Music testified that the overall cost for actually creating the song was $6.9 million, which seems insanely high, but it means that Universal didn’t even break even on the track.
Usually details such as these are impossible to track down, but since the trial is public, we’re privy also to the fact that Williams also took home $4.3 million in publishing royalties and a $860,000 for his production credits.
The estate of Marvin Gaye was looking to get at least of portion of these profits as well as a chunk of the $11 million in tour revenue, which they argue are also attributable to “Blurred Lines”.
Total publishing profits from the track is around $8 million, the estate of Marvin Gaye was looking for 50% of that as well. On top of all of this, the Gaye’s also claim that another song of Thicke’s “Love After War” is similar to another song “After The Dance”.
In his opening statement, attorney Richard Busch claimed that total damages amounted to $40 million.