Songwriters say awarding Marvin Gaye’s estate 50% royalties was ‘a cascade of legal errors'
The songwriters of Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ are appealing against a court ruling which gave the estate of Marvin Gaye 50% of the song’s royalties.
After Gaye’s estate sued over similarities between ‘Blurred Lines’ and the late soul singer’s 1977 song ‘Got To Give It Up’, a federal jury ruled in 2015 that Gaye’s estate should be awarded half of the song’s royalties. Gaye’s estate was also awarded $5.3m (£4m) in damages.
‘Blurred Lines’ songwriters Pharrell Williams, T.I. and Thicke have now filed a lawsuit at the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals.
The federal jury’s ruling stated that, although ‘Blurred Lines’ didn’t intentionally copy ‘Got To Get It On’, Thicke’s song was heavily influenced by Gaye’s track.
The court of appeal lawsuit states: “What happened was a cascade of legal errors, warranting this court’s reversal or new trial.” It goes on to list “errors” made in the original trial, including that it was biased to allow musicologists hired by Gaye’s team to only play selected excerpts from both songs, rather than play each track in full. It is also appealing the judge’s decision not to instruct the jury to base its verdict on actual similarities between the song, rather than “non-copyright” similarities.
The original court’s ruling has been heavily criticised by numerous musicians and songwriters, saying it allows songs to be sued just for having influences, rather than copying songs note-for-note.
Gaye’s estate has since sued Ed Sheeran, claiming his hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’ copies Gaye’s single ‘Let’s Get It On’