Pharrell Williams is not too happy with being ordered to pay $7.4 million to the family of Marvin Gaye after a judge ruled he and Robin Thicke are guilty of copyright infringement for their mega-hit “Blurred Lines.” According to the court, “Blurred Lines” is a complete rip-off of Marvin’s “Got to Give It Up.”
The singer/producer spoke briefly with Financial Times about the outcome and insists that there was no infringement, simply inspiration.
The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else. This applies to fashion, music, design… anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas.
There was no infringement. You can’t own feelings and you can’t own emotions… [in music] there are only the notations and the progression [in musical composition.] Those were different.
Everything that’s around you in a room was inspired by something or someone. If you kill that, there’s no creativity.
In an open letter, the family of Marvin Gaye also reacted to the verdict. Interestingly enough, in the letter the family noted that during the trial the jury wasn’t allowed to actually listen to the sound recording of “Got to Give It Up,” but only look at the song’s composition on paper.
From that alone they were able to determine that “Blurred Lines” was entirely too similar.
Instead of licensing our father’s song and giving him the appropriate songwriter credit,Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released “Blurred Lines” and then filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against us, forcing us into court. They sought to quickly affirm that their song was “starkly different,” than “Got to Give It Up.” The Judge denied their motion for Summary Judgement, and a jury was charged with determining the “extrinsic and intrinsic similarities” of the songs. The jury has spoken.
We wanted to also make clear that the jury was not permitted to listen to the actual sound recording of “Got to Give It Up.” Our dad’s powerful vocal performance of his own song along with unique background sounds were eliminated from the trial, and the copyright infringement was based entirely on the similarity of the basic musical compositions, not on “style,” or “feel,” or “era,” or “genre.” His song is so iconic that its basic composition stood strong. We feel this further amplifies the soundness of the verdict.
Like all music fans, we have an added appreciation for songs that touch us in mysterious ways. Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams certainly have a right to be inspired by “Got to Give It Up,” but as the jury ruled, they did not have the right to use it without permission as a blueprint for a track they were constructing.
Pharrell & co. are planning to appeal the verdict.
[via Rolling Stone]