The jury has finally reached a verdict.
As widely reported here and elsewhere, Marvin Gaye’s family argued that ‘Blurred Lines’ copied Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got to Give Up,’ suing Thicke, Williams and rapper T.I. for damages and a portion of the profits. The song has made nearly $16.5 million since release; the family sought more than $25 million.
The jury ordered Thicke and Williams to pay $4 million in copyright damages plus profits attributable to infringement; that’s an additional $1.8 million for Thicke and $1.6 million for Williams. However, neither was found to be willfully infringing of copyright, so they will not pay statutory damages.
Howard King, lead attorney for Williams and Thicke, told the court that a verdict in favour of the Gaye estate would have a chilling effect on musicians who were trying to recreate a genre or homage to another artist’s sound.
Marvin’s children Nona, Frankie and Marvin III were present as the verdict was being read. “Right now, I feel free,” said Nona 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.” [via Variety, Billboard]
Update, 09.40 GMT: Gaye’s family will also try to stop the distribution of the record. Speaking to Rolling Stone, attorney Richard Busch revealed that “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. We’ll be doing that in about a week or so.”
He added, in reference to the fact that ‘Blurred Lines” songwriters filed a pre-emptive suit back in 2013, claiming that the song was “strikingly different” to Gaye’s track, that “we didn’t start this fight … we just finished it.”
Update, 14:32 GMT: Thicke, Williams and T.I. have released a joint statement that reads thus: “while we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward. Pharrell created ‘Blurred Lines’ from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.” [via Billboard]
Update, 18.05 GMT: So the courtroom sketch of Thicke performing both songs to demonstrate the difference between them, by few-more-legit court illustrator Mona Shafer Edwards, is pretty special: