Last year, Marvin Gaye’s estate sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, claiming Thicke and Williams’ song “Blurred Lines” was similar enough to Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up” that the pair should be forced to pay royalties. Today, a verdict has been reached in that trial, and the jury decided that Thicke and Williams do indeed got to give it up: to the tune of $7.3 million.
The decision brings with it plenty of copyright-related artistic ramifications going forward, but in terms of simple financials: That is a serious payout. Last week, it was revealed that the song’s total revenue was $16,675,69, with Thicke and Williams reaping $5,658,214 and $5,153,457 respectively. Of course there are surely ancillary revenue possibilities that aren’t considered — tour revenue, for example — but it’s still pretty incredible to think that Gaye’s estate will go home with more money than either of the song’s credited writers/performers. Like, without those people, there would not be any revenue to be collected: Maybe they ripped off Marvin Gaye, but they still had to get in a studio and do that, and make a video for it, and promote it, and do it all well enough to make a ton of money, right? Of course, I assume this won’t leave either Thicke or Williams destitute … but still, must suck to be those guys today.
After the verdict Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona addressed the media outside the courthouse, saying, “I feel free from Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains.” You can watch KTLA’s report here.
UPDATE: Williams, Thicke, & T.I. have released this statement:
“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. ‘Blurred Lines’ was created from the heart and minds of Pharrell, Robin and T.I. and not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
UPDATE 2: Rolling Stone reports that Gaye’s family is now seeking to halt all sales of “Blurred Lines” until the parties can reach an agreement about future royalty payouts. Explains lawyer Richard Busch, “We’ll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of ‘Blurred Lines’ unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared. We’ll be doing that in about a week or so.”