Music hitmakers Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke joined forces in 2013 on “Blurred Lines,” a number one Billboard Song of the Summer that many felt had the groove of R&B legend Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” The Gaye’s estate specifically Gaye’s daughter Nona expressed their distaste for the song and insisted it was a direct copyright infringement on her father’s hit classic.
The battle has pursued for a few years and have landed both parties in court twice. However today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Gaye estate and cited that “Got to Give It Up” was “entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression.” The court confirmed that Gaye’s estate is entitled to 50% of all royalties from that song forever. It also found that the rapper T.I., who contributed one verse, wasn’t personally liable in the case and is not responsible for damages. (The original 2015 finding hit the musicians with a multimillion-dollar judgment, which preceded this most recent appeal.)
This ruling can effect the music industry and change the structure of how things are done forever. Berklee College of Music professor Joe Bennett disagrees with the ruling and has stated:
“In our community here at Berklee we have a concentration of 6,000 musicians, and it sent seismic shockwaves throughout,” says Berklee College of Music professor, vice president for academic affairs and musicologist Joe Bennett. For this case, he stresses the importance of understanding the difference between a sound recording and the musical work in terms of copyright. “From a musicological point of view, to me and to many of the musicians and songwriters, they’re completely different songs because they have different lyrics, melodies and chords. ”
What are your thoughts?