Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams "Got to Give it Up" to Tune of $7.4 million

A federal jury ruled Tuesday that the 2013 smash hit “Blurred Lines” by pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit song, “Got to Give It Up.,”  The jury awarded Mr. Gaye’s children $7.4 million in damages. Mr. Gaye died in 1984. Gaye’s song reached No. 1 in the charts.  Blurred Lines also  hit No.1.

When Marvin Gaye’s family publicly accused Robin Thicke of ripping off “Got to Give It Up”, Thicke, along with “Blurred Lines” collaborators Pharrell Williams and T.I., filed a lawsuit against Gaye’s children in August asking the Court to rule that “Blurred Lines” did not steal from “Got to Give It Up.”  The family filed a counterclaim alleging that Thicke, Williams, T.I. and their record company not only stole from “Got to Give It Up,” but also that Thicke had unlawfully copied other classic Marvin Gaye songs.

Jurors  in the “Blurred Lines” trial found against Thicke and Williams, but found that T.I. and the record company had not contributed to the copyright infringement.  Evidence was presented at trial that Thicke had said in several interviews that he suggested to Williams that they write something like “Got to Give It Up,” and that Williams had said he was “trying to pretend” he was Gaye when he wrote it.  They both admitted before the trial that Gaye had influenced the writing of “Blurred Lines.”  Moreover, the Gaye family presented evidence of eight copyright-infringing similarities, including evidence from musicologists that the two songs “share a constellation of similarities in hand percussion parts, bass lines, drum set parts, vocal melodies, backup vocals [hey, hey, hey!], accompaniment parts and instrumentation that cannot be accidental.”

Interestingly, Thicke wound up defending himself in the counterclaim by throwing Mr. Williams under the bus, claiming that he did not have a hand in writing the song and that he was high and drunk while recording it.  Nice.  Thicke had previously claimed credit for part of writing the song, but testified that he’d lied about that repeatedly in interviews and in sworn documents.  Not the wisest trial strategy!  The Gaye family’s attorney, Richard Busch, emphasized in the post-verdict press conference that Thicke and Williams “started this fight and we finished it.”  He was referencing the fact that Thicke and Williams sued the Gaye family first, and claimed that the two thought they could bully Mr. Gaye’s children.

Here’s a mix of the two songs.  You decide for yourself.  Hey. Hey. Hey.

About Michael Phelan

Michael Phelan has been consistently recognized for his excellence as a trial lawyer, his commitment to research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication. As one of his valued clients said, “Mike puts his heart into it."