Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna
The intellectual properties of the track “Blurred Lines”, produced by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and rapper T.I. continue to be in dispute with the family of Marvin Gaye and the three artists.
However, earlier this week, according to NME, over 200 musicians including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson, and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy, legally voiced their support to Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. regarding the appeal against the ruling.
Back in 2014 was when the issues with the track began, Marvin Gaye’s family had decided that they would sue pop artist Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the song “Blurred Lines” due to its similarities to Gaye’s 1977 song “Got To Give it Up”. After much battling in the courts, in 2015, a federal jury ruled that Gaye’s estate should be awarded half of the songs royalties, which reached over $7 million. In addition, the estate was also awarded an extra $5.3M in damages. The ruling stated that although ‘Blurred Lines’ didn’t intentionally copy ‘Got To Give It Up’, Robin Thicke’s hit was heavily influenced by Gaye’s song.
However, last week Williams, Thicke, and rapper T.I. filed an appeal at the 9th Court of Appeals. hoping to overturn the decision. An overwhelming amount of support followed with over 200 musicians attaching their names to what is referred to as a “amicus brief” This brief indicates that even though they are not actually litigants in the case, they have a strong interest in the subject matter, as it does in fact pertain to the future of their careers.
The amicus brief argues that “The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works. All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre”. It continues on to state, “By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line is.”
This amicus is basically stating that there must be a re-evaluation of this standard which indicates whether a song is original (received from inspiration) or copied unlawfully. If not managed properly it will cause future problems for artist trying to create original tracks, but are fearful of coincidental similarities that can cause legal issues for their income. Artist need to know exactly where the line in, so they don’t cross.
Other musicians who have signed the brief include Jennifer Hudson, John Oates of Hall & Oats, The Go-Go’s, Danger Mouse, and many more. Perhaps this surge of support will cause a more appropriate ruling which will help set a precedent on future similar issues.