Concluding a legal battle that has dragged on for nearly two years, a federal jury in Los Angeles has ordered “Blurred Lines” songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay $7.3 million in damages to Marvin Gaye’s family, saying the line between their song and Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up” is just a little too blurry.
The trial was the result of one of two lawsuits filed by Gaye’s family in response to the song; the other, filed against “Blurred Lines” publishing company EMI, was settled out of court last January. The controversy surrounding the song has seen lawsuits, counter-suits and a deposition that involved Thicke listening to a mashup of “Blurred Lines” and “Got To Give It Up” that he compared to “nails on a fucking chalkboard,” or maybe talking to a woman who isn’t sexually interested in him.
In his testimony last week, Williams took responsibility for writing and masterminding every element of the song, consistent with Thicke’s earlier statements that he couldn’t be held responsible for “Blurred Lines” because he was fucked up at the time. Williams went on to say that he did not intend to copy Marvin Gaye when he wrote the song, but that Motown had been a big influence on him growing up.
He did admit that the two songs were similar in “feel,” however, and when the bass lines for the two songs were played for him back-to-back, he said, “It sounds like you’re playing the same thing,” at which point The New York Times notes that Thicke got up and left the courtroom. For his part, The Los Angeles Times reports that Thicke’s testimony included him playing a keyboard melody of pop hits and describing himself as a liar who had misrepresented his role in writing “Blurred Lines” because he was “jealous.”
According to Rolling Stone, Gaye’s family originally sought $25 million in damages; the $7.3 million number was reached after accounting reports revealed that Thicke and Williams had made more than $16 million from “Blurred Lines.” Co-songwriter/co-defendant T.I. was not named in the jury’s decision.