‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Verdict Knocked Down to $5.3 Million; Judge Nixes New Trial Request

Judge sets a 50 percent royalty rate for Marvin Gaye’s relatives

Pharrell Williams Robin Thicke
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Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams got some good news and bad news from the legal system on Tuesday.

In the ongoing copyright infringement saga surrounding the hit song “Blurred Lines,” a federal judge lessened the $7.4 million judgment that was handed down to the family of deceased singer Marvin Gaye, knocking the payout down to $5.3 million.

On the downside for the “Blurred Lines” duo, the judge rejected Thicke’s bid for a new trial in the matter.

The Gaye family also lost their bid for an injunction that would have blocked the song from distribution. The judge did, however, set  a 50 percent royalty rate for songwriter and publishing revenues.

In his order, U.S. district judge John A. Kronstadt specifically stated that the damages awarded against Williams were excessive, as it had not been shown that Williams was a “practical partner” of Thicke’s, and thus is only liable for his share of the profits from the song.

In terms of the damages reduction, the actual damages were knocked down from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, while the award of profits from Williams was knocked down from just over $1.6 million to $357,000 and change.

The family of Marvin Gaye prevailed at trial in March, after arguing that “Blurred Lines” infringed on Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up.” The verdict was controversial, given that the infringement appeared to reside in the similarity of feel between the two songs.

Universal Music Group, also named as a defendant in the suit, had no comment for TheWrap, nor did an attorney for Thicke and Williams.

Richard Busch, an attorney for two of the Gaye children, told TheWrap that “we are thrilled” with the decision.

“We are reviewing and digesting the decision. Obviously we are thrilled with the decision by the Court not only affirming the decision of the jury that Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams committed copyright infringement, but also the decision holding Mr. Harris and Universal liable as well, and ordering that the defendants pay the Gaye family 50 percent off all publishing revenue from ‘Blurred Lines’ going forward,” Busch said. “As far as the reduction in damages, we are reviewing that, and the Court’s analysis on that issue, and will be discussing internally our options.”

Paul Philips, attorney for Marvin Gaye III, told TheWrap, “We’re thankful for the conscientious work the court has continued to pour into this case and all of its complexities. In terms of today’s post-trial rulings, we’re obviously pleased that justice prevailed in just the manner we thought it would.

“It’s clear that the positions taken by Mr. Thicke and his team at trial weren’t any more persuasive today than they were when the jury came down on the side of the Gaye family in March of this year. And while we’re thrilled with where we are in the case at the moment, we’re also fully prepared for whatever steps the Thicke parties may elect to take next — until now they’ve only delayed the inevitable.”