Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams Seek New Trial in ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Case

Singer and producer were ordered to pay $7.4 million to Marvin Gaye’s family for infringement on the song “Got to Give it Up”

Get ready for another chorus of the copyright drama over “Blurred Lines.”

Singer Robin Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams have filed legal papers seeking a new trial in the case after being ordered to pay $7.4 million to the family of Marvin Gaye in March, when a jury found that “Blurred Lines” infringed on the Gaye song “Got to Give It Up.”

The notice of motion for a new trial, filed in federal court in California on Friday, argues for a re-do on a number of fronts, including that the jury was misinformed by errors in the instructions it was given, and that testimony provided by musicologists Judith Finell and Ingrid Monson was inadmissible.

On Friday, the Gaye family also filed a motion for prejudgment interest on the $7.4 million award.

In the papers, attorneys for Thicke and Williams call the jury’s verdict “unfounded, illogical and a miscarriage of justice.”

The court papers further argue that testimony about Thicke’s statements to the press suggesting that he wished to create a song with the same “feel” or “groove” as “Got to Give it Up” are “irrelevant,” even though those statements “were the centerpiece of the Gayes’ case.”

Attorneys for Thicke and Williams contend that two instructions given to the jury misinformed jurors about how to assess copyright infringement. In the papers, the lawyers contend that the alleged similarities between the two songs do not appear in the Gayes’ “deposit copy” of the song, which represents the extent of the Gayes’ copyright ownership in “Got to Give it Up.” (During the trial, jurors were presented with the sheet music for the Gaye song rather than the sound recording.)

As for Finell’s testimony, Thicke and Williams’ attorneys contend that she “improperly was permitted to testify misleadingly and prejudicially about a number of purported ‘similarities’ between ‘Blurred’ and ‘Give’ that should never have been presented to the jury.”

The attorneys further contend that Monson, the second musicologist for the Gaye family, should not have been allowed to testify about or play “mash-ups” of the two songs, which “were were prejudicial and irrelevant and should not have been played to the jury for a number of reasons.” Among those reasons: That the mash-ups contained elements of the keyboard and bass portions of the “Got to Give it Up” sound recording that aren’t reflected in the sheet music.

The motion for a new trial also takes issue with the monetary award, stating that the $4 million in actual damages awarded by the jury is “grossly excessive and not supported by any admissible evidence.”

In its own filing Friday, the Gaye family asked for prejudgment interest on its award, contending that the Copyright Act allows such interest “to compensate fully a copyright owner for the misappropriated value of its property” and “to avoid unjust enrichment by defendants, who would otherwise benefit from this component of profit through their unlawful use of another’s work.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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