Pharrell Williams et al. v Bridgeport Music et al., No. 15-56880 ( 9th Cir. July 11, 2018 ) is a United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit case concerning copyright misdemeanor of fathom recording. In August 2013, Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and Clifford Joseph Harris ( known by his stage name “ T.I. ” ) filed a complaint for declarative relief against the members of Marvin Gaye ‘s family and Bridgeport Music in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, that the sung “ Blurred Lines “ did not infringe the copyright of defendants in “ Got to Give It Up “ and “ Sexy Ways “ respectively. [ 1 ] On October 6, 2017, the Circuit Court held oral arguments on the appeal to vacate the district motor hotel ‘s sagacity. [ 2 ] The Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court ‘s decision against Williams and Thicke and affirmed indebtedness of millions of dollar as damages. It was established that “ Got to Give It Up ” is “ entitled to broad protection against copyright misdemeanor liability because musical compositions are not confined to a minute scope of expression ”. [ 3 ]
setting [edit ]
“ Blurred Lines ” is a song performed by Robin Thicke, featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I., and the three shared writing credits. The song was a hit, spending twelve weeks at the lead of the Billboard Hot 100 and ultimately reaching the act two spot on the year-end Billboard Hot 100 graph. [ 4 ]
however, the song became a subject for dispute with Gaye ‘s kin and Bridgeport Music, who claimed that the birdcall infringed on their copyright and is inspired by their songs “ Got to Give It Up ” ( 1977 ) and “ Sexy Ways ” ( 1974 ) respectively .
charge for declarative relief [edit ]
notably, unlike the traditional manner, the litigation started with preemptive filing of declarative relief. In August 2013, Williams, Thicke and T.I. filed a complaint for declarative easing against Gaye ‘s family and Bridgeport Music. Prior to the complaint, Gaye ‘s family and Bridgeport Music alleged that the plaintiff has “ ripped-off ” “ Got to Give it Up ”. The complaint argued that “ the basis of the Gaye defendants ‘ claims is that “ Blurred Lines ” and “ Got To Give It Up ” “ feel ” or “ legal ” the same. Being evocative of a “ fathom ” is not copyright violation. The intent in producing “ Blurred Lines ” was to evoke an era. In reality, the Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an integral genre, as opposed to a particular work ”. [ 5 ] They argued that they did not copy the formulation but only the ‘idea ‘ or the ‘genre ‘, which is not copyright-able .
Plaintiff ‘s disposition [edit ]
Williams stated that the two songs were “ completely different ”, adding “ just just go to the piano and play the two. One ‘s minor and one ‘s major. And not even in the same key ”. [ 6 ] Thicke stated that at the clock time of record, he was “ high on Vicodin and alcohol when [ he ] showed up at the studio apartment ”, and then “ [ Williams ] had the beat and he wrote about every single part of the birdcall ”. [ 7 ]
In the counter-claim, Gaye ‘s family argued that the songs were not merely stylistically exchangeable ; alternatively, they claim that “ many of the main song and instrumental themes of “ Blurred Lines ” are rooted in “ Got to Give It Up ” ; namely, the signature phrase, vocal music hook, backup vocal hook, their variations, and the keyboard and bass lines ” and “ the substantial similarities are the solution of many of the lapp consider creative choices made by their respective composers. ” [ 8 ]
motion for drumhead sagacity [edit ]
In July 2014, the plaintiff filed for a gesture of summary judgment. however, on October 30, 2014, the court denied the motion. [ 9 ] Judge John A. Kronstadt, after reviewing competing musicologist reports, found “ substantial similarity [ between “ Blurred Lines ” and “ Got to Give It Up ” ] to present a genuine return of material fact ”, and that the “ key signature phrases, hooks, bass lines, keyboard chords, harmonic structures and vocal melodies ” in both songs were like ”. [ 10 ]
Holding [edit ]
trial [edit ]
The trial started in the District Court on February 10, 2015. [ 11 ] Plaintiffs filed a successful apparent motion in limine pleading that Gaye ‘s sound record of “ Got to Give It Up ” be excluded from being played during the trial. [ 12 ] [ 13 ] The motion was successful since Marvin Gaye ‘s voice had no relevance in the case. The dispute was limited to the elements from sheet music. Judge Kronstadt stated “ I do n’t expect Gaye ‘s voice to be a separate of the character ”. [ 14 ] The jury was to decide whether “ Blurred Lines ” infringed upon the play along limit elements : one ) Signature Phrase two ) Hooks three ) Bass Lines intravenous feeding ) Harmonic Structures, and v ) Keyboard Chords. [ 15 ] The jury was allowed to hear a circumscribed part of Gaye ‘s phone record that substantially reflected the quarrel subject-matter. The dowry was edited to remove unprotected elements.
On March 10, 2015, the jury unanimously found Thicke and Williams liable for copyright violation. It awarded a kernel of $ 7.4 million as damages for the violation to Gaye ‘s family. The total was reduced by the District Court to $ 5.3 million, along with 50 percentage royalties on future songwriter and publish tax income of “ Blurred Lines ”. [ 16 ] On January 11, 2016, Gaye ‘s family moved an application for approximately $ 3.5 million in lawyer fees and costs on the grounds that the jury verdict prevailed on merits, rather than on a technical foul exit. [ 16 ] The Court denied the application and ordered foster submissions on the publish of costs .
appeal [edit ]
In August 2016, Thicke, Williams and T.I. appealed against the sagacity on the grounds that the Gaye kin failed to show substantial similarity between the two songs. late, a count of amicus curiae briefs were filed in support of the appeal by musicians, musicologists and copyright scholars, including John Oates and R. Kelly. [ 17 ] The briefs claimed that the judgment would have a deleterious impression on initiation in democratic music diligence and that the jury ‘s verdict was based on flaw testimony by Gaye ‘s kin melodious expert. In March 2018, the three-judge jury at the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court ‘s decision 2-1. [ 18 ]
dissent [edit ]
Appellate Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote a disagree impression. She argued that “ Blurred Lines ” and “ Got to Give It Up ” differed in “ tune, harmony ” and “ rhythm ” and therefore miss extrinsic similarity. She claimed that the judgment allows for auspices over musical vogue and stated that “ [ it ] establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere ”. [ 19 ]
subsequent developments [edit ]
In December 2019, the Gaye estate filed a irregular try for $ 3.5 million in lawyer fees and costs, [ 20 ] [ 21 ] arguing that Williams had committed perjury in a 2019 interview with GQ where he said he “ reverse-engineered ” Gaye ‘s song. [ 22 ] In February 2021, Judge Kronstadt found insufficient testify to support a find of perjury, and dismissed the become. [ 22 ]
Copyright scholars and musicians closely followed the case since it immediately addressed the doubt of copyright protection for sheet music elements other than tune, harmony and cycle. many scholars have expressed concern that the case can open a pandora ‘s box of litigation and will cause substantial damage to the music diligence, potentially causing a chill effect. [ 23 ] Another business was that the lawsuit was basically decided by the jury and evaluate, therefore potentially failing the requirement of ‘extrinsic screen ‘. Another set of scholars supports the sagacity, claiming that the tax income of the music industry is not impacted. [ 24 ]
See besides [edit ]
References [edit ]
promote read [edit ]
- Reitz, D., 2015. An Analysis Of The Evidence Against “Blurred Lines”. [online] Ludwig van Toronto.
- Cronin, C., 1998. Concepts of Melodic Similarity in Music-Copyright Infringement Suits. Computing in Musicology. Walter B. Hewlett, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, eds.
- Joseph P. Fishman, Music as a Matter of Law, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 1861 (2018).