Marvin Gaye's heirs win $7.4 million for 'Blurred Lines' plagiarism

Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:05pm EDT
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By Michael Fleeman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Heirs of the late soul singer Marvin Gaye won a $7.4 million judgment on Tuesday against recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who a jury found plagiarized the Motown artist in the creation of their hit single "Blurred Lines."

The U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles sided with Gaye's estate in the closely watched litigation, finding that parts of his 1977 hit "Got to Give it Up" were lifted by Thicke and Williams for their summer 2013 R&B chart-topper.

The jury awarded Gaye's heirs $4 million in actual damages plus $3.4 million in profits that Thicke and Williams were found to have derived from their copyright infringement of "Got to Give it Up."

Several other parties sued by Gaye's estate, the rapper T.I. and various record and music companies, were cleared of copyright infringement on "Got to Give it Up."

Gaye's daughter, Nona Gaye, hugged her attorney and wept as the court clerk read the verdict capping a weeklong trial that delved into the boundaries between artistic inspiration and copyright infringement.

The suit by Gaye's children cited excerpts of magazine interviews given by Thicke to support their contention he had publicly admitted to drawing on "Got to Give it Up" when producing and recording "Blurred Lines."

But Thicke said later in sworn statements he was high on painkillers and alcohol when "Blurred Lines" became a hit and that he exaggerated his contribution to writing the song.

Thicke sang the raunchy, percussive R&B dance tune, a worldwide hit that ranked as the biggest U.S. pop song of the summer of 2013, at that year's MTV Video Music Awards in a provocative performance featuring pop singer Miley Cyrus.   Continued...

Marvin Gaye's daughter, Nona Gaye, speaks to media outside the federal court in Los Angeles, March 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson