Marvin Gaye's family wins plagiarism case

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In this combination photo, Robin Thicke performs at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Aug. 16, 2015, left, and Pharrell Williams attends the 2016 ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2016. A federal appeals court has ruled refused to overturn a copyright infringement verdict against Thicke and Williams over the 2013 hit song ‘Blurred Lines’. In a split decision from a three-judge panel, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a verdict awarding $5.3 million to the family of Marvin Gaye, who said ‘Blurred Lines’ illegally copied from the late soul singer’€™s ’Got to Give it Up.’ (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

 

A US court has upheld a $US5.3 million ($A7.4 million) judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copying a Marvin Gaye song to create their 2013 smash Blurred Lines.

The court said Gaye's 1977 song Got to Give It Up deserved broad copyright protection, and the March 2015 jury verdict in favour of Gaye's three children could stand because there was "not an absolute absence of evidence" of similarity between the two songs.

Judge Milan Smith also upheld an award of 50 per cent of future royalties from "Blurred Lines" to the Gayes.

He restored the jury finding that the Interscope record label, part of Vivendi SA, and Clifford Harris, the rapper known as T.I. who added a verse to Blurred Lines, should not be liable.

The Blurred Lines case has transfixed the music industry, prompting debate over the line between plagiarism and honouring works by popular artists like Gaye, whose songs also include I Heard It Through the Grapevine and What's Going On. Gaye was fatally shot by his father in 1984 at age 44.

Howard King, a lawyer for Thicke and Williams, said the dissent "enhances the prospects" his clients may prevail in an appeal. "These are two entirely different songs," he said.

"We are thrilled," Richard Busch, the Gayes' lawyer, said in an interview. "The decision protects songwriters, and encourages new songwriters to create original works themselves."

Two of Gaye's children, Frankie and Nona, called the decision "a victory for the rights of all musicians."

Williams, whose songs also include Happy, admitted in court to being a Gaye fan since childhood but said Blurred Lines and Got to Give it Up were similar in genre only.

Thicke has in interviews acknowledged drawing on Gaye's song but maintained in sworn statements that he exaggerated his contribution to Blurred Lines.

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