A California judge has ruled Pharrell Williams did not commit perjury during the 2015 court case on whether his collaboration with Robin Thicke, ‘Blurred Lines’, infringed on copyright.
As reported by People, the ruling comes after Marvin Gaye’s family accused Williams, Thicke and T.I. of ripping off Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got To Give It Up’. In 2015, the court found that Williams and Thicke were liable for copyright infringement, meaning they had to give Gaye’s family half of the song’s royalties, in addition to make a one-off payment of £4million ($5.3million) in damages. An appeal was later filed, but denied in 2018.
In 2019, Williams gave an interview with Rick Rubin for GQ where he said he “reversed-engineered” Gaye’s song, which Gaye’s family then used in a subsequent court filing as evidence of Williams committing perjury in the earlier case.
However, on Friday (February 12), US District Court Judge John Kronstadt found that Williams did not commit perjury.
“The statements by Williams during the November 2019 Interview were cryptic and amenable to multiple interpretations,” Judge Kronstadt wrote.
“For example, it is unclear what Williams meant by ‘reverse-engineer[ing].’ Read in context, Williams statement about ‘reverse-engineering’ could be interpreted as a process in which he remembers his feelings when listening to particular music, and then attempts to recreate those feelings in his own works.
“This is not inconsistent with his deposition testimony, in which he claimed that he realized after creating ‘Blurred Lines’ that the feeling he tried to capture in the song, was one that he associated with Marvin Gaye.”
Kronstadt continued, “For these reasons, the Gaye Parties have not shown by clear and compelling evidence that there are sufficiently material inconsistencies between Williams’ statements in the November 2019 Interview and his sworn testimony, to support a finding of perjury.”
Williams has already distanced himself from the song, saying in 2019, “I realised that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country…Didn’t realise that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”
Earlier this month, Thicke revealed that he’ll “never make” a music video like ‘Blurred Lines’ again, saying, “I had lost perspective on my personal life and my music and what was appropriate”.