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Blurred Lines retrial request denied, though damages cut and no distribution ban

By | Published on Wednesday 15 July 2015

Robin Thicke

Ah, the ‘Blurred Lines’ case. I’m planning on writing a musical about it all you know, featuring the song ‘Blurred Lines’ obviously, and lots of other Marvin Gaye tracks too. Ha, see what I did there? It’s going to be a sure-fire hit. Though there won’t be a second act. Or will there?

The judge overseeing the headline-grabbing stage show starring, I mean, legal battle involving Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and the family of the late great Marvin Gaye has ruled on a bunch of post-trial requests. There’s good news for both sides in the dispute, though bad news for Universal Music. Which is always fun.

As much previously reported, the Gaye family accused Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of ripping off Marvin Gaye song ‘Got To Give It Up’ to make ‘Blurred Lines’, and earlier this year a jury sided with them on that allegation, ordering the terrible twosome to pay over $7 million in damages to the other side.

It was a controversial ruling (or not, depending on your viewpoint), and unsurprisingly a number of other legal filings followed it. Lawyers for Thicke and Williams requested a new trial, picking various holes in the original, and in particular questioning whether technicalities about which bits of ‘Got To Give It Up’ were actually protected by copyright were properly understood. They also questioned the size of the damages awarded.

Meanwhile, the Gaye family sought an injunction to stop future distribution of ‘Blurred Lines’ to force the various parties with a stake in the pop monstrosity to agree a deal over sharing future income with the Gayes. The family also wanted Universal Music and ‘Blurred Lines’ guest rapper TI to be made liable for the big infringement too. Though the major argued that to do so would breach America’s Seventh Amendment, on the basis the jury in the original trial had specifically decided that it wasn’t liable.

Having mused over all those various claims and counter-claims, US District Judge John Kronstadt has now reached a number of conclusions.

First, that there won’t be a retrial because reps for Thicke and Williams failed to provide any decent evidence as to why there should be.

Secondly, there will be no injunction to stop the distribution of ‘Lines’, but 50% of all future songwriter and publishing royalties will go to the Gaye estate.

Thirdly, the money Williams must pay over in damages has been cut to $5.3 million.

But fourthly, Universal Music and TI are jointly liable for the filthy song theft from which they profited.

So that’s all fun isn’t it? Though it seems unlikely this ruling will be the final scene in my West End show, to be followed by a ‘Happy/Sexual Healing’ medley, because a number of appeals are now expected, against these decisions, and the original ruling.