SAN FRANCISCO (CelebrityAccess) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the $5.3 million judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over claims that they borrowed from a Marvin Gaye song for their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines”
With a vote of 2-1, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” was entitled “was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression” and supported an earlier jury verdict in favor of Gaye’s estate because there was some evidence of similarity between Gaye’s song and “Blurred Lines.”
The Appeals Court also supported the lower court’s award of 50 percent of future royalties from “Blurred Lines” to the Gaye family and ruled that Interscope, and rapper T.I. who provided a verse for “Blurred Lines” would not be liable in the infringement.
Jurors in the original 2015 case had awarded the Gayes $7.4 million, but U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt later reduced that to $5.3 million, while adding royalties to the mix, as well as adding T.I and Interscope as liable in the infringement.
The 9th Circuit’s decision was not unanimous, however, and Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen voiced a strong dissent in the case.
Nguyen said that the court had been uncritically deferential to music experts decision had changed the copyright landscape by allowing the Gayes to “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style,” and opened the door for future lawsuits over copyright violations.
Lawyers for the defendants did not respond to requests for comment, however, the Gayes attorney, Richard Busch told Reuters “We are thrilled. The decision protects songwriters, and encourages new songwriters to create original works themselves.”
The case is Williams et al v Gaye et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-56880.