A Los Angeles jury ruled this week that the hit 2013 song “Blurred Lines” infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye’s 1977 party jam, “Got to Give It Up,” and ordered “Blurred Lines” composers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay more than $7.3 million to Gaye’s family, writes Quartz’ Adam Pasic.
Pasic argues the verdict is bad news for creativity:
Even if you love Marvin Gaye and hate Robin Thicke’s misogynist and vaguely rapey song, the verdict sets a terrible precedent, and could have a chilling effect on musicians trying to create new songs.
“Blurred Lines” does not take any lyrics or melodies directly from “Got to Give It Up,” but when you listen to the songs together it’s clear that they sound kind of similar. Lawyers for Thicke and Williams argued that they tried to evoke “that late ’70s feeling” of Gaye’s song, but that those elements are not copyrightable.
The jurors disagreed—even though the judge banned them from listening to “Got to Give It Up” except as a mash-up that combined a disembodied rhythm track with Thicke’s vocals.