District Judge John A. Kronstadt has cut more than $1 million from the damages Pharrell Williams was ordered to pay after the Blurred Lines copyright trial.
The case revolved around the question of whether Pharrell Williams and his co-writer Robin Thicke had copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit Got To Give It Up.
In March, a jury ruled that they had, and awarded Marvin Gaye’s family $7.3 million in damages.
However, District Judge John A. Kronstadt has now slashed that to $5.3 million.
The cut comprises a reduction in actual damages from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, and a drop in the profits that Pharrell Williams has to turn over from about $1.6 million to about $358,000.
The judge also gave Marvin Gaye’s family a 50% cut of future earnings from the song, but rejected a request that would have temporarily blocked sales and performances of the track.
Judge Kronstadt’s ruling also refused a request by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ lawyers for a new trial.
In March, jurors found that rapper TI, who received a songwriting credit and a share of the royalties for his verse on Blurred Lines, did not commit copyright infringement – but Judge Kronstadt ruled that other elements of the jury’s verdict mean he must be included in the judgment.
He also found that found that Interscope Records, Universal Music Group and Star Trak Entertainment were liable.
Marvin Gaye family lawyer Richard Busch said he was “thrilled” the court had affirmed the jury’s decision on copyright infringement.
“As far as the reduction in damages, we are reviewing that, and the Court’s analysis on that issue, and will be discussing internally our options,” he added.
Pharrell Williams’ lawyer Howard King added: “While we certainly respect the diligence and care devoted by the court throughout these proceedings, we must agree to disagree on the conclusions.”
“We look forward to exercising our further remedies and ultimately achieving clarity on the difference between inspiration and copyright infringement.”
Nominated for record of the year at the 2013 Grammys, Blurred Lines was a No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic and one of the biggest-selling songs of the year.
Since its release, Blurred Lines has earned nearly $16.5 million in profits, according to court documents, with Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke making more than $5 million each.
At the trial, Pharrell Willliams contended that he was only trying to mimic the “feel” of Marvin Gaye’s music and insisted he did not use elements of his idol’s work.
The ruling paves the way for the next phase of the showdown when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams are expected to take the dispute to an appeals court.
In his first interview since losing the Blurred Lines copyright case, Pharrell Williams warned the ruling could have a chilling effect on creativity.
“You can’t own emotions,” the singer told the Financial Times.
“The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” Parrell Williams said.
“This applies to fashion, music, design… anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas.”
A federal court in LA had ruled Pharrell Williams’ song Blurred Lines infringed the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up, and ordered Williams and fellow singer Robin Thicke to pay damages of $7.3 million to the Gaye estate.
On March 19, Marvin Gaye’s family filed an injunction to stop the copying, distributing and performing of Blurred Lines.
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke will appeal the Blurred Lines verdict which ruled that they copied Marvin Gaye’s track Got To Give It Up.
On March 10, an LA jury decided that parts of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit Got To Give It Up were lifted for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit Blurred Lines.
The family of late soul singer Marvin Gaye was awarded $7.3 million in damages.
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s lawyer said they remained adamant Blurred Lines was original, created solely by them.
“We owe it to songwriters around the world to make sure this verdict doesn’t stand,” Howard King told Fox Business News.
“My clients know that they wrote the song Blurred Lines from their hearts and souls and no other source.
“We are going to exercise every post-trial remedy we have to make sure this verdict does not stand.”
Howard King added that expert evidence in the case, which may have swayed the jury, should have been inadmissible.
In particular, said Howard King, the testimony from a musicologist that compared Blurred Lines with Got To Give It Up was based on elements of Marvin Gaye’s song that were not on the original sheet music.
At the time of its copyright, only the written music could be registered as protected, not sound recordings.
“Clearly the jury relied on what that expert said in reaching their conclusion,” said Howard King.
Marvin Gaye died in April 1984, leaving his children the copyright to his music. His children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in 2013.
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines – one of the best-selling singles of all time – copied a Marvin Gaye’s hit Got To Give It Up, a Los Angeles jury has ruled.
Jurors in Los Angeles decided that the 2013 single by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke breached the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit.
The family of the late soul singer has been awarded $7.3 million in damages.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams denied copying the hit, and their lawyer said the ruling set a “horrible precedent”.
Marvin Gaye died in April 1984, leaving his children the copyright to his music.
His children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in 2013. Nona Gaye wept as the verdict was read in court.
“Right now, I feel free,” she told reporters after the ruling.
“Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
In court, Pharrell Williams had told jurors that Marvin Gaye’s music was part of the soundtrack of his youth but he insisted it was not on his mind when he wrote the song.
The musician recognized a likeness between the songs and agreed he was “channeling… that late-70s feeling” when he co-wrote the song.
Robin Thicke testified that he had contributed little to the writing of the song.
“While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward,” the pair’s lawyer Howard E King said.
“We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
Blurred Lines, which earned a Grammy nomination, generated more than $16 million in profits and made more than $5 million for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.
Pharrell Williams denies copying Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song Got to Give It Up for the hit single Blurred Lines.
However, the singer admits he was “channelling… that late-70s feeling” when he co-wrote the song.
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper TI are being sued by Marvin Gaye’s family over similarities between Got to Give It Up and Blurred Lines.
In court, Pharrell Williams said Marvin Gaye’s work was not on his mind when he wrote the song, but he later recognized a likeness.
“Sometimes when you look back on your past work, you see echoes of people.”
“But that doesn’t mean that’s what you were doing,” Pharrell Williams testified in court in Los Angeles.
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper TI – real name Clifford Harris Jr – all deny copying Got to Give It Up for the song, a number one hit in 2013.
Expressing his admiration for Marvin Gaye, Pharrell Williams said: “The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else’s when you love him.”
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“I respect his music beyond words,” he added.
During his testimony on March 4, Pharrell Williams was played extracts of both his and Marvin Gaye’s compositions, stripped down to their basic song structure.
Listening to the juxtaposed bass lines, Pharrell Williams responded: “It sounds like you’re playing the same thing”, but argued that some of the note progressions had been shifted in pitch so they sounded more alike.
His comments appeared to prompt Robin Thicke, who was attending the trial, to leave the courtroom.
Both Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have testified that Williams was the principle creator of Blurred Lines, which generated more than $16 million in profits and made more than $5 million for both stars.
Speaking in court, Pharrell Williams said it took him three days of “surfing around” at Burbank’s Glenwood Place Studios, in June 2012, before he hit upon the composition for the 2013 song.
“In this case I started with drums,” he said in court, adding that he was influenced by two other recordings he was making at that time – for Miley Cyrus and Earl Sweatshirt.
“I was doing a bunch of country-sounding music with Miley,” he said.
“It was like blending this country sound with this up-tempo groove.”
“Once you have a groove, then you’re pretty much allowing the groove to tell you what’s next,” Pharrell Williams said, describing his writing process.
He said he completed the instrumentals in about an hour. Robin Thicke joined him that evening, and they immediately started recording the vocals, Pharrell Williams told the court.
Last week, Robin Thicke testified that he had contributed little to the writing of the song.
In a pre-trial deposition deposition he admitted he was “high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio” and “wanted to be more involved than I actually was”.
Marvin Gaye’s children – Frankie and Nona – are seeking money from sales and touring, as well as damages. During opening arguments, a lawyer for Marvin Gaye’s children estimated damages at $40 million.