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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Blurred Lines’ Trial Likely

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge said Monday that he is not "inclined" to rule in favor of Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke in their court battle with Marvin Gaye's estate and Funkadelic's music publisher over "Blurred Lines."

Last year, pop singer Robin Thicke "reluctantly" sued Marvin Gaye's estate in federal court, insisting his feel-good hit of the summer was not a rip off of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" or Funkadelics's "Sexy Ways." The suit also named publisher Bridgeport Music, Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III and Nona Marvisa Gaye as defendants.

Marvin Gaye's estate and Bridgeport Music filed counterclaims after Thicke asked a judge to declare that the 2013 hit did not violate copyright law.

Thicke and his collaborators on "Blurred Lines," singer-producer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I., asked the court on Monday to grant them summary judgment. To support their motion, the plaintiffs submitted the declarations of three experts.

But U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt issued a tentative order after the hearing, denying the request. The case was taken under submission, and the order did not specify when Kronstadt will issue a ruling.

In their 2013 complaint, Thicke and Williams said they filed suit after threats of legal action.

"There are no similarities between plaintiffs' composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements," the pop stars state in their complaint. "Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else's composition."

Instead, "Blurred Lines" only evoked an "era," and is "starkly different" from the Gaye's and Funkadelic's songs, the pop stars said.

In a May interview with GQ magazine, Thicke said the number 1 hit was written and recorded in two hours.

"Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye's 'Got to Give It Up,'" Thicke said in the interview. "I was like, 'Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.'"

But in a deposition, Thicke said that he had overplayed his part in the creation of the song and was drunk and on Vicodin when it was recorded.

"To be honest, that's the only part where - I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted - I - I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit," Thicke said, according to the deposition obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I - because I didn't want him - I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

Thicke is represented by Howard King with King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner. The attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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