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Court Rules Blurred Lines ‘Copied’ Marvin Gaye Track

Soul Legend’s Family Awarded Damages Following Ruling


A US Court has ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ track Blurred Lines copies a 1977 song by Marvin Gaye, with the heir’s family set to receive damages of more than £4 million as a result of the decision.

The jury in Los Angeles found that the 2013 single, one of the biggest selling songs of recent years, amounted to a breach of copyright in relation to the Gaye song Got To Give It Up.

Williams had argued in court that the song was not in his mind when he wrote Blurred Lines but acknowledged a likeness between the two.

Following the decision, Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona said she felt “free”.

The lawyer acting for Thicke and Williams described the ruling as a “horrible precedent” and the confirmed they were now considering options following the decision.

Expert Opinion
The case illustrates just how blurred the line is between ‘plagiarising’ and ‘deriving inspiration’ so far as copyright infringement is concerned. Critics have heralded this as a blow to creative inspiration and a disaster for the music industry. However, it’s not the first case of its kind and it’s unlikely to be the last.

"Whilst Thicke and Williams’ lawyer said ‘no-one can own a genre or style’ of music, evidence was led to demonstrate similarities in signature phrases, hook, keyboard bass interplay, lyrics and theme of the song.

“Would an English Court reach the same decision? It might, although I suspect a Judge would be more circumspect than a Jury and would not be influenced, as it is reported jurors were, by other extraneous factors such as character traits of the defendants.

"You only have to think back to the UK copyright infringement case involving Robbie Williams and his song Jesus in a Camper Van, where his use of the words ‘I am the Way’ was held to infringe the copyright of Woody Guthrie’s song ‘I am the Way’ even though the songs sounded completely different. What does seem most likely, is that there will be an appeal."
Georgie Collins, Partner

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