Jury Rules That “Blurred Lines” Infringed on Marvin Gaye Copyright

Case sets chilling precedent for music industry, perhaps limiting the "vibe" or "feel" of a song as much as basic melody.

By Published on March 11, 2015

For the last year and a half, the music industry has been gripped by a lawsuit over whether Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” was merely reminiscent of a song by Marvin Gaye, or had crossed the line into plagiarism.

A federal jury in Los Angeles on Tuesday agreed that “Blurred Lines” had gone too far, and copied elements of Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” without permission. The jury found that Mr. Thicke, with Pharrell Williams, who shares a songwriting credit on the track, had committed copyright infringement, and it awarded more than $7.3 million to Mr. Gaye’s family.

Nona and Frankie Gaye, two of Marvin Gaye’s children, are to receive $4 million in damages plus about $3.3 million of the profits earned by Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams, as well as about $9,000 in statutory damages. The decision is believed to be one of the largest damages awards in a music copyright case. In one of the few comparable cases, in 1994, Michael Bolton and Sony were ordered to pay $5.4 million for infringing on a 1960s song by the soul group the Isley Brothers.

Read the article “Jury Rules That “Blurred Lines” Infringed on Marvin Gaye Copyright” on nytimes.com.

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