Marvin Gaye‘s family have prevailed in their legal battle against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
After two weeks of court proceedings, a federal jury determined that Thicke and Williams did in fact plagiarize their hit single “Blurred Lines” by taking important and unique musical elements from Gaye’s 1977 single “Got To Give It Up.”
The jurors deliberated for two days, an unusually long time for a case like this, before voting unanimously in favor of Gaye’s family.
Gaye’s children Nona, Frankie, and Marvin III will now receive a total of $4 million in damages, plus an additional $1.6 million directly from Williams and $1.7 million directly from Thicke. Some additional rounding brings the total to almost $7.4 million; however, if the pop stars appeal they may reduce the total amount owed.
Ironically, Thicke and Williams started this legal dispute by filing a preëmptive lawsuit against Gaye’s family in an attempt to stop any allegations of copyright infringement from getting out. This forced Gaye’s family to file a counter-suit against the duo, which they have now won.
Record labels like to keep their financials a closely guarded secret, but the trial revealed that “Blurred Lines” brought in over $16.6 million in revenue, with about $5 million going to both Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. Rapper T.I. also received $700,000 for his short guest spot on the track.
Though “Blurred Lines” was played many times during the trial, the jury was never allowed to hear Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” because, theoretically, copyright law only protects the sheet music written by Gaye back in 1976. However, even without hearing the two songs together, the jury was still able to see that the underlying structure of the two songs was too similar to be coincidental.
The jury also heard evidence from interviews Thicke and Williams gave while promoting the single, including one where Thicke effectively admitted to copying Gaye’s music. In a 2013 interview with GQ Magazine, Thicke said: “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up. I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.'”
Thicke later tried to recant that statement, claiming to have been high on alcohol and prescription pain medication during the interview. Clearly the jury didn’t buy it.
This isn’t the end of the action though. This win sets the stage for at least one other lawsuit as Gaye’s family also allege “Love After War,” a song Thicke co-wrote with his ex-wife Paula Patton in 2011, is plagiarized from Marvin Gaye’s 1976 song “After The Dance.”
You be the judge. Check out both the songs below and let us know what you think:
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