Earlier this year Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost the trial dealing with infringement upon Marvin Gaye’s song, “Got To Give It Up.” The song in question is of course the duo’s 2013 mega-song, “Blurred Lines.” Today Pharrell and Robin have motioned for a new trial.
The motion sent to the court reads:
“The grounds for this motion are that the jury’s verdict finding that Counter-Defendants infringed ‘Got To Give It Up’ and the damages and profits awarded by the jury are unsupported by any evidence, let alone substantial evidence, and are contrary to law; and evidentiary errors and legal errors in the jury instructions were prejudicial and prevented Counter-Defendants from receiving a fair trial.”
Thicke and Williams cite musicologist Judith Finell for proving evidence that was inadmissible, and only bolstered the case of the prosecution leaving the defense unable to provide a counter-claim. The “Blurred Lines” case is only one of the many cases coming out with songs infringing on original works. Recently Sam Smith settled with Tom Petty’s estate, because “Stay With Me” had a similar chord progression to “I Won’t Back Down.” The precedent being set by these trials have made other artist take serious, maybe even unnecessary precautions. Mark Ronson, and Bruno Mars have recently credited Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band on Ronson and Mars’ song, “Uptown Funk.” The writing credit does come with a payout, and is probably way cheaper than dealing with a trial because “Uptown Funk” has a similar pattern to The Gap Bands “Oops Upside Your Head.” What these trials are really doing is setting the change for artists to completely branch out and create the most original sounds possible. Lawsuits will only continue to pile up if artist try to emulate or recreate a similar sounding piece. The homage factor is irrelevant to the artists who are being “infringed upon” when songs such as “Blurred Lines”, or “Uptown Funk” are the biggest songs in the country and are making millions of dollars. It’s all about money.
The irony of the situation with Gaye’s estate is that Marvin detailed experiences where he would incorporate other artists sounds in his own music. It’s not hypocritical on Marvin Gaye’s part, because he is not suing Thicke and Williams (Rest in peace Marvin). The Gaye estate is suing the two singers for-again- millions of dollars. The main question this trail raises is, “What does this do for music as a whole, because aren’t sounds borrowed all the time?” It sets the stage for any artists from the older generations to come out and say, “I think (insert name) stole this song from me.” Nine times out of ten some similarity can be found between any two songs. The motion for a new trial has not yet been granted, but if so hopefully the jury sees that “Blurred Lines” likeness to “Got To Give It Up” is not plagiaristic in nature, but simply a coincidence.