In a ruling announced yesterday, a California judge found Marvin Gaye’s family gave significant evidence that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has similar content to Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” denying Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s motion for a summary judgment that would imply that Gaye’s family was seeking to take ownership of a whole genre of music.
Judge John Kronstadt ruled that the Gaye Family “made a sufficient showing that elements of ‘Blurred Lines’ may be substantially similar to protected, original elements of ‘Got to Give It Up.’ Defendants have identified these with particularity for purposes of analytic dissection.”
A summary judgment would mean that “Blurred Lines” hadn’t infringed on anything. Instead, the judge has set up a case that could be one of the biggest in copyright infringement ever.
Pharrell and Thicke filed their lawsuit in September 2014 after they received threats from the Gaye family. Gaye’s family claimed Thicke has a “Marvin Gaye fixation” and infringed with a second song, titled “Love After War” from Gaye’s “After the Dance.”
Reports state that the Gaye family’s evidence consisted of a detailed musical comparison of the songs, breaking it down to notes, bars, phrases and melodies. All of that are expressions that can be legally protected.
Judge Kronstadt’s decision was influenced by Thicke’s depositions comments where he reveals that he lied to the media about being influenced by Gaye and being in the studio while “Blurred Lines” was created.
Williams and Thicke’s attorney Howard King played down the significance of the ruling, saying that the opinions of multiple musicologists opened the door for further adjudication.
King also noted, Sandy Wilbur who served as the case’s musicologist testified that there were no two consecutive notes in the two songs being investigated. “We are gratified that the ruling significantly limits the issues going forward by finding that the Gaye’s cannot assert any infringement claim for elements not included in the sheet music deposited with the copyright office, which effectively eliminates five of their eight claimed similarities,” he continued.
The trial is scheduled for February 10, 2015. Do you think the judge should have denied Williams and Thicke’s motion?
We will keep you up to date with any updates from this case.