After five years of legal wrangling, Thicke and Pharrell Williams must pay out nearly $5 million to the family of Marvin Gaye.
A final ruling has been handed down in the long-running copyright dispute case concerning ‘Blurred Lines’, with its creators Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams being ordered to pay out $5 million to the family of Marvin Gaye.
The verdict brings to an end a legal battle that began over five years ago, when the estate of the late soul singer Marvin Gaye launched a lawsuit claiming that Thicke and Williams’ 2013 smash hit ‘Blurred Lines’ copied substantial parts of Gaye’s 1977 single ‘Got To Give It Up’.
Gaye’s family won the initial case over three years ago now, but Thicke and Williams appealed the verdict.
A court in California upheld the original ruling back in March this year, and the new, slightly amended judgment confirmed that verdict, representing the last word in the process.
Robin Thicke has been ordered to personally pay $1.7 million of the award
Therefore, Thicke, Williams and his publishing company, More Water From Nazareth are jointly required to pay damages of $2.8 million to Gaye’s estate. Thicke has individually been ordered to pay an additional $1.7 million, while Williams and his publishing company will shoulder a further $357,630.
The grand total going to Gaye’s family is $4.98 million – a substantial amount, but a mere fraction of the initial $16.6 million that Thicke and Williams were said to have earned from the song during the initial trial so many years ago.
In addition, Gaye's family will be entitled to 50% of any future royalties earned by ‘Blurred Lines’, which was the biggest-selling single around the world in 2013.
It’s a legal case that will have ramifications for the wider music industry, which has seen copyright cases proliferate in the years since the ‘Blurred Lines’ case was brought. Many felt that the original ruling was flawed, as it punished Thicke's song for merely copying the ‘feel’ of Gaye's R&B classic, rather than directly plagiarising specific musical phrases or lyrics.