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Copyright infringement

Blurred Lines Infringed Marvin Gaye’s iconic Got To Give It Up Song

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.

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Blurred Lines Copyright Infringement Opinion

 

Blurred Lines opinion by Eriq Gardner on Scribd

 

 
NGUYEN, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
The majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style. “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.
 
While juries are entitled to rely on properly supported expert opinion in determining substantial similarity, experts must be able to articulate facts upon which their conclusions—and thus the jury’s findings—logically rely. Here, the Gayes’ expert, musicologist Judith Finell, cherry- picked brief snippets to opine that a “constellation” of individually unprotectable elements in both pieces of music made them substantially similar. That might be reasonable if the two constellations bore any resemblance. But Big and Little Dipper they are not. The only similarity between these“constellations” is that they’re both compositions of stars.
 
I.
 
When a court, with the assistance of expert testimony, is able to determine substantial similarity (or lack thereof) under the extrinsic test, judgment must be given as a matter of law.
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

 

Case Name: Pharrell Williams v. Frankie Gaye
Case Number: 15-56880
Case Panel: M. SMITH, MURGUIA, NGUYEN
Hearing Location: Pasadena CA
Hearing Date: 10/06/2017

Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (ft. T.I. & Pharrell) HD with Lyrics on screen

 

Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up 1977 (Remastered audio)