CALIFORNIA, United States, Friday March 13, 2015 – Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke must face the music to the tune of US$7.4 million after a jury awarded the sum to Marvin Gaye’s children on determining that the pair had copied Gaye’s music to create their massive hit Blurred Lines.
The song, which emerged as the biggest hit of 2013, brought in $5.6 million for Thicke, $5.2 million for Pharrell and another $5 million to $6 million for the record company, as well as an additional $8 million in publishing revenue, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The jury decided that the Gaye family should receive $4 million in damages, and $3.4 million in profits from the song.
They had originally asked for $40million in damages, but later reduced the figure to $25million. This was based on the amount of money they believed Gaye would have been paid had he signed away the rights to his song.
The Gayes’ lawyer Richard Busch branded Pharrell and Thicke liars who went beyond trying to emulate the sound of Gaye’s late-1970s music and copied the R&B legend’s hit Got to Give It Up outright.
After the verdict, Busch also pointed out that the defence’s legal team did everything they could to prevent the jury from hearing Gaye’s song during the proceedings, allowing only snippets of the music to be heard.
For this reason the copyright infringement charge only applied to the sheet music for the two songs, making the case against Thicke and Pharrell that much more difficult for the Gaye family.
The Gayes’ attorney nevertheless indicated during his argument that Thicke had said in interviews while promoting Blurred Lines that he and Pharrell were trying to write something like Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.
Thicke went on to deny writing Blurred Lines, which Pharrell testified he’d crafted in about an hour in mid-2012, telling the jurors that he was too high on painkillers and alcohol.
“The biggest hit of my career was written by somebody else, and I was jealous and wanted credit,” Thicke said.
Multiple Grammy winner Pharrell told the court that Gaye’s music was “part of the soundtrack of his youth,” but insisted that he didn’t use any of it to create Blurred Lines and that the songs were alike in genre only.
Gaye’s children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – sued Pharrell and Thicke in 2013 and were present when the verdict was read.
“Right now, I feel free,” said Nona Gaye in an emotional statement outside the courtroom following the verdict.
“Free from … Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
This was believed to be in response to Pharrell and Thicke’s 2013 lawsuit against Gaye’s estate in an attempt to stop his family from suing them for copyright infringement.
“Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions,” the suit read.
It was nevertheless thrown out in October of that year, when a judge ruled that the family had made a sufficient showing that Blurred Lines and Got to Give it Up were similar.
Pharrell’s spokesperson, Amanda Silverman, released a statement following the verdict on Tuesday, saying: “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.
“Pharrell created Blurred Lines from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”