Pair have been ordered to pay $7.3m (£4.8m) to the family of Marvin Gaye
There’s been yet another twist in the long-running ‘Blurred Lines’ saga. Following a US District Court’s decision in March that the song’s writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, had copied Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’, the pair’s lawyers are now pushing for a new trial.
As pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter, Thicke and Williams’ legal teams submitted a new motion on Friday (May 1), citing errors in jury instructions, improper testimony from a musicologist and insufficient evidence to support the initial ruling.
Among the issues to be raised by Pharrell’s legal team was the judge’s pre-trial decision that Gaye’s copyright didn’t go beyond the sheet music, meaning Thicke’s testimony on how the the “groove” of ‘Got To Give It Up’ influenced ‘Blurred Lines’ should not have been heard by the jury as it was “prejudicial and irrelevant” information, as was musicologist Judith Finell’s opinion on the similarity of the songs.
The two artists were ordered to pay $7.3m (£4.8m) to Gaye’s family, which Pharrell’s lawyers say was “grossly excessive and not supported by any admissible evidence”. They argue that since musicologist Sandy Wilbur’s testimony stated that “the elements of [Got To Give It Up’] claimed to have been copied amount to less than 5% of the [Blurred Lines] composition,” Gaye’s family are entitled to no more than 5 percent of non-publishing profits, which would amount to $680,000.
The Gaye family also filed motions on Friday, seeking declaratory relief that Interscope Records and UMG Recordings should be held accountable. They also want to stop the song from being further distributed. The judge will consider the motions at a hearing scheduled for June 29.
The initial 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’. A US District Judge denied their request and said a jury must decide “the intrinsic similarity of the works”.
Following the decision, Thicke and Williams’ lawyer Howard E King said: “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. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”