A federal appeals court has sided with the family of legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye in the closely-watched battle over Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit song "Blurred Lines," reports the Associated Press.
A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the defense’s appeal to overturn the original decision or order a new trial. The Gaye family was awarded $7 million in damages in 2015 after they filed a lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The suit claimed "Blurred Lines" borrowed from Gaye’s timeless song "Got To Give It Up." The award amount was later lowered to $5.3 million. The family was also given 50 percent of ongoing royalties from the song. Rapper T.I., who was also featured in the song, and Interscope Records are not liable in the case.
In a 2-1 vote, the panel decided the Gaye family was still entitled to those rewards. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, the lone opponent of the decision, believes this will set a negative precedent for the music industry.
“The majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style," Nguyen wrote in her dissent. "'Blurred Lines' and 'Got to Give It Up' are not objectively similar. They differ in melody, harmony, and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere."
Howard King, Williams’s and Thicke’s attorney, praised Nguyen and reaffirmed his clients’ position.
“We stand by the fact that these are two entirely different songs," King said. "The thorough and well-reasoned dissenting judge's opinion is compelling and enhances the prospects for success in a further review by the Court of Appeals."
Gaye family attorney Richard S. Busch released a statement praising the decision and refuted the assertion that this ruling would stifle artists’ creativity.
“Despite the protests of the Williams' camp that the decision somehow stifles creativity, the opposite is true," he said in a statement. He added that the verdict and Wednesday's ruling "encourages today's writers to create original work that does not take advantage of the success of others while pawning it off as their own."