Blurred Lines Infringed Marvin Gaye’s iconic Got To Give It Up Song, according to the 9th Circuit ruling in California made on March 21, 2018. US Copyright law seems to always be changing.
The 9th Circuit says that Blurred Lines Infringed the Copyright to Marvin Gaye’s iconic “Got To Give It Up.” A dissenting judge wrote that the ruling “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians.”
OPINION by M. SMITH, Circuit Judge:
After a seven-day trial and two days of deliberation, a jury found that Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and Clifford Harris, Jr.’s song “Blurred Lines,” the world’s best-selling single in 2013, infringed Frankie Christian Gaye, Nona Marvisa Gaye, and Marvin Gaye III’s copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit song “Got To Give It Up.”
Three consolidated appeals followed.
Appellants and Cross-Appellees Williams, Thicke, Harris, and More Water from Nazareth Publishing, Inc.(collectively, Thicke Parties) appeal from the district court’s judgment. They urge us to reverse the district court’s denial of their motion for summary judgment and direct the district court to enter judgment in their favor.
In the alternative, they ask us to vacate the judgment and remand the case for a new trial, on grounds of instructional error, improper admission of expert testimony, and lack of evidence supporting the verdict. If a new trial is not ordered, they request that we reverse or vacate the jury’s awards of actual damages and infringer’s profits, and the district court’s imposition of a running royalty.
Finally, they seek reversal of the judgment against Harris, challenging the district court’s decision to overturn the jury’s general verdict finding in Harris’s favor.
Appellants and Cross-Appellees Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Inc., Universal Music Distribution, and Star Trak, LLC (collectively, Interscope Parties) appeal from the district court’s judgment. They urge us to reverse the judgment against them, challenging the district court’s decision to overturn the jury’s general verdict finding in their favor.
See Benay v. Warner Bros. Entm’t, Inc., 607 F.3d 620, 624 (9th Cir. 2010). If, for example, the defendant copied verbatim most of the plaintiff’s work, then the plaintiff is entitled to a finding of substantial similarity as a matter of law. See Calhoun v. Lillenas Publ’g , 298 F.3d 1228, 1232 (11th Cir. 2002) (“[E]ven a casual comparison of the two compositions compels the conclusion that the two compositions are practically identical.”). Conversely, if the objective similarities between the two pieces are merely trivial, then a verdict for the plaintiff could not stand.
See Peters v. West , 692 F.3d 629, 636 (7th Cir. 2012) (affirming dismissal of infringement suit where the two songs “share[d] only small cosmetic similarities”);
Newton v. Diamond (“Newton II”), 388 F.3d 1189 (9th Cir. 2004) (affirming grant of summary judgment to defendants who appropriated a de minimis portion of the plaintiff’s musical composition and used it throughout their own work).
Blurred Lines Appeal: Oral Argument Video
Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (ft. T.I. & Pharrell) HD with Lyrics on screen
Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up 1977 (Remastered audio)