31 August 2016Copyright

‘Blurred Lines’ appeal sparks musicians’ support

The writers of hit song “Blurred Lines” experienced yesterday an outpouring of support from fellow musicians following their appeal against last year’s high-profile copyright ruling.

Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper T.I  appealed last week against a ruling which found them liable for infringing the copyright to a Marvin Gaye song.

The amicus brief, filed on behalf of more than 200 musicians at the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supported the attempt of the “Blurred Lines” writers to overturn the judgment.

Williams and Thicke were previously ordered to pay late soul singer Gaye’s family more than $7 million after a jury at the US District Court for the Central District of California said the song infringed copyright to his 1977 hit “ Got to Give it Up”.

Among those who submitted the brief are Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), Earth, Wind & Fire, Fall Out Boy, Hall & Oates, Linkin Park, R. Kelly and Train.

Amici are concerned about the potential adverse impact on their own creativity, on the creativity of future artists, and on the music industry in general, if the judgment in this case is allowed to stand,” said the brief, written by Edwin McPherson, attorney at law firm McPherson Rane.

It added that the verdict in the case threatened to punish songwriters for creating new music inspired by prior works.

“One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassie, or if The Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from The Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences,” claimed the brief.

The artists believe that the judgment will stifle creativity because it has eliminated any “meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissibleinspirationand unlawfulcopying”.

Additionally, ten musicologists filed an amicus brief on August 30, claiming that the California district court failed in its “gatekeeping function” and that a straightforward comparison should have demonstrated that the songs are thoroughly dissimilar.

Gaye died in April 1984, leaving the copyright of his music to his family and children, Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III.

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More on this story

25 August 2016   Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, the writers of hit song “Blurred Lines”, have appealed against last year’s high profile ruling which found the pair liable for infringing the copyright to a Marvin Gaye song.
16 January 2017   Singers Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams have been targeted in a copyright infringement suit by a US-based resident.
12 July 2018   US musicians Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been denied a rehearing in a copyright infringement case involving a Marvin Gaye song.