25 August 2016Copyright

‘Blurred Lines’ writers refuse to give up in copyright case

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.

Williams and Thicke were 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”.

But the battle has taken a twist with the filing of an opening brief at the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on August 23 as Williams and Thicke, along with rapper and co-writer T.I, seek to overturn the judgment.

“What happened was a cascade of legal errors, warranting this court’s reversal or a new trial,” the filing said.

The filing claimed that the district court had made things worse by “erroneously”allowing the Gayes’ experts to testify about the sound recording and only play selected excerpts from both songs.

Further, it claims that the two songs should have been compared in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1909 and not the more recent 1976 Copyright Act.

Under the 1909 act copyright extends only to sheet music, not sound recordings, while the 1976 act allows for comparisons of sound recordings.

Williams and Thicke argue that “Got to Give It Up” was created before the later act went into effect [in 1978].

However, the Gayes’ testimony was based on a sound recording of “Got to Give It Up,” rather than an overview of the melody, lyrics and chords that was deposited with the US Copyright Office.

According to the filing, the court failed to instruct the jury to consider only the protectable elements of the copyrighted work, instead pointing them “explicitly to elements omitted from the deposit copy”.

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

31 August 2016   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.
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