Judge cuts Blurred Lines song dispute pay-out

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Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams

A judge has trimmed more than two million dollars from a verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their hit Blurred Lines, but Marvin Gaye’s family will also get a significant share of future earnings from the 2013 hit song.

US District Judge John A Kronstadt ruled that the copyright infringement verdict a jury reached in March should be cut from nearly 7.4 million dollars to 5.3 million. The judge’s ruling, however, gives Gaye’s family 50 per cent of the song’s future royalties.

Kronstadt’s 56-page ruling dealt with several post-trial issues, including a request by Thicke and Pharrell’s lawyers for a new trial. The judge rejected that motion, and also refused to issue an injunction requested by Gaye’s family that would have temporarily blocked sales and performance of Blurred Lines.

The jury in March sided with Gaye’s family, who contended Blurred Lines copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit Got To Give It Up.

Jurors found that rapper T.I., who received songwriting credit and a share of the royalties, did not commit copyright infringement, but Kronstadt ruled that other elements of the jury’s verdict mean he must be included in the judgment.

Howard King, an attorney for Thicke and Williams, said he was still reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.

“Mr Thicke and Williams, and their legal team, among others, went on a public relations campaign after the jury’s verdict criticising the verdict and saying the evidence did not support the finding of copyright infringement, and did not believe the decision on liability would therefore stand,” the Gaye family’s attorney, Richard Busch, wrote in a statement.

Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams

“The judge who actually heard all of the evidence disagreed. I am thrilled for the Gaye family, and the thoughtful members of the jury, who had to listen to all of that while remaining silent.”

Busch said he and his team were reviewing the ruling and would discuss options for how the reduction in the verdict would be handled.

Pharrell is a 10-time Grammy Award winner whose songs that he’s either performed or produced have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. His hit Happy has helped make him a household name, as has his work as a judge on NBC’s singing competition show, The Voice.

He contended during the trial that he was only trying to mimic the “feel” of Gaye’s late 1970s music and insisted he did not use elements of his idol’s work.

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