Marvin Gaye’s children were awarded nearly $7.4 million Tuesday (Mar. 10) after a jury determined that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied the late singer’s music to create the 2013 mega-hit “Blurred Lines.”
The unanimous decision was reached after almost a week of testimony about whether or not Thicke and Williams’ colossal chart-topper was an homage to Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” or a blatant reproduction.
Based on the evidence, the jury decreed that it was the latter, awarding a hefty sum of the estimated $16,675,690 in profits to Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III.
“Right now, I feel free,” said Gaye’s daughter, Nona, who wept while hugging her attorney, Richard Busch, when the verdict was read. “Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
According to their attorney, Howard King, Thicke and Williams were both “undoubtedly disappointed” with the verdict.
“They’re unwavering in their absolute conviction that they wrote this song independently,” King said.
That conviction led Thicke, Williams and fellow collaborator T.I. to preemptively sue the Gaye family to determine if their Grammy-nominated song was an infringement on the copyright of Gaye’s 1977 hit. The Gaye family then counter-sued.
“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,” Williams said in a statement to USA Today.
The G I R L crooner’s spokesperson, Amanda Silverman, added that the hit-maker will weigh his options moving forward.
“Pharrell created ‘Blurred Lines’ from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else,” she said. “We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
Although this case could face years of appeals, the ruling has the potential to have an enormous ripple effect on the music industry as a whole.
"Unfortunately, today's jury verdict has blurred the lines between protectable elements of a musical composition and the unprotectable musical style or groove exemplified by Marvin Gaye," said Larry Iser, an intellectual property attorney who has represented musicians in numerous copyright cases. "Although Gaye was the Prince of Soul, he didn't own a copyright to the genre, and Thicke and Williams' homage to the feel of Marvin Gaye is not infringing."