Earlier this month, a US jury decided that Thicke’s song copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single ‘Got To Give It Up’. It was ruled that Williams and Thicke must pay $7.3m (£4.8m) to Gaye’s family. The lawsuit was brought by Gaye’s children Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III, who inherited the copyright to the soul legend’s music following his death in 1984.
The trial came as a result of a pre-emptive August 2013 lawsuit filed by Thicke and Williams who, fearing the Gayes would be litigious, sought to affirm that ‘Blurred Lines’ is “strikingly different” to ‘Got to Give It Up’. US District Judge John Kronstadt denied their request and said a jury must decide “the intrinsic similarity of the works”.
Now, Gaye’s children have released a statement following the lawsuit in order to “set the record straight on a few misconceptions echoing through some news and social media platforms about our intentions, our plans, and the so-called ‘larger’ ramifications of this case within the music industry.”
The statement reads: “Instead of licensing our father’s song and giving him the appropriate songwriter credit, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released “Blurred Lines” and then filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against us, forcing us into court. They sought to quickly affirm that their song was “starkly different,” than “Got to Give It Up.” The Judge denied their motion for Summary Judgement, and a jury was charged with determining the “extrinsic and intrinsic similarities” of the songs. The jury has spoken.”
Continuing: “Like all music fans, we have an added appreciation for songs that touch us in mysterious ways. Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams certainly have a right to be inspired by “Got to Give It Up” but as the jury ruled, they did not have the right to use it without permission as a blueprint for a track they were constructing.
Great artists like our dad intentionally build their music to last, but we as the caretakers of such treasures, have an obligation to be vigilant about preserving the integrity of the music so that future generations understand its origins and feel its effect as the artist intended, and to assure that it retains its value.”
The statement also claims that the ruling “assures musical treasures will always be valued”, adding: “With the digital age upon us, the threat of greater infringement looms for every artist. It is our wish that our dad’s legacy, and all great music, past, present, and future, be enjoyed and protected, with the knowledge that adhering to copyright standards assures our musical treasures will always be valued.”
Read the full statement at Rolling Stone.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter also claim that Gaye’s children have filed a motion to “correct” the original ruling to include rapper TI and record labels Universal and Interscope as among the guilty parties. This would entitle the family to compensation from these additional parties also.
During the trial, which began on February 25, Williams spent more than an hour describing his musical process and he how he came to write ‘Blurred Lines’, which took him about one hour in 2012. Though he admitted a similarity between the track and ‘Got To Give It Up’, he said the Gaye song never entered his head during the writing process, merely that he was “channelling… that late-’70s feeling”.
Singer Thicke performed a medley of songs in court as evidence that many tracks share similar chords and melodies without necessarily copying one another. His performance included tracks by artists including U2, Bob Marley and The Beatles.
It is thought that Pharrell and Thicke have earned over $5m (£3m) each from the profits of the Grammy-winning single. Total profits from the single are estimated to exceed $16m (£10.8), and it has sold well over one million copies in the UK, taking the title of 2013’s biggest selling single.