Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke ordered to pay $5m in ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism row

Musicians must give the money to Marvin Gaye’s family over similarity between songs

File photograph from 2013 of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams performing. File photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

File photograph from 2013 of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams performing. File photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

 

Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have been ordered to pay a total of nearly $5 million (€4.4 million) to the family of Marvin Gaye, in a final judgment in the plagiarism case that found similarity between their song Blurred Lines and Gaye’s song Got to Give It Up.

Blurred Lines reached the top of the charts in the US and UK in 2013, becoming Thicke’s biggest hit to date and eventually generating a total of $16.6 million in revenue. Thicke and Williams have earned $5 million each from the song.

In August 2013, following an accusation by the Gaye family that the song borrowed from Got to Give It Up, Thicke and Williams filed a lawsuit to try and affirm that their song did not infringe copyright.

The Gaye family, who own the copyright to Marvin Gaye’s songs, countersued, resulting in a legal battle that initially concluded in March 2015, when a judge ruled in favour of the family. The judge ordered Thicke and Williams to pay $7.4 million to the family.

The sum was later reduced, but the pair still appealed the ruling in 2016.

Earlier this year, a judge upheld the original ruling, resulting in this new amended judgment. The pair must jointly pay $2.8 million, with Thicke also paying an additional $1.7 million and Williams an additional $357,630, while 50 per cent of future royalties from the song will be paid to the Gaye family.

The judgment has been controversial, with Williams arguing for “feel, not infringement”, testifying that he had evoked the mood of Gaye’s song without directly plagiarising it.

Thicke had previously admitted to the inspiration in a GQ interview, saying: “I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then [Williams] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it.” – Guardian