“Blurred Lines” Case Isn’t Over

You thought it was over? That Marvin Gaye’s kids would simply need to sit by a mailbox and wait for a check for $7.4 million to arrive? Nope. Nuh uh. It doesn’t work like that.

It’s the return of Robin Thicke! The fight is on for Pharell! After all, $7.4 million is a lot of cash, in fact, nearly all the cash the duo made over the track after the record industry got its cut. (Both made around $5 million apiece for the song’s efforts.) So they’re taking this back to court.

Said Reuters:

Recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams will contest the $7.4 million jury verdict that found they plagiarized Motown soul great Marvin Gaye in creating their hit single “Blurred Lines,” the duo’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

A day after the judgment, attorney Howard King said Thicke and Williams remained adamant that “Blurred Lines” was an original song created solely by them, adding that jurors were apparently convinced otherwise by expert testimony which should have been inadmissible.

The U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles sided with Gaye’s heirs on Tuesday in finding that parts of his 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up” were lifted by Thicke and Williams for their 2013 R&B chart-topper.

For industry insiders, the case going back to court might actually be a good thing. Several music and legal critics have pointed out that the verdict sets a dangerous precedent for an industry that is constantly borrowing and being influenced by the previous work of others. “Blurred Lines” was clearly influenced by the Marvin Gaye hit, but it wasn’t a beat-for-beat rip. Critics argue being influenced by another work and using it in your own is part of art. Why should music be treated differently than a filmmaker recreating shots made famous by Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee (Quentin Tarantino’s entire movie career is made of homages to B-filmmakers), or a painter who’s style is influenced by Picasso or Georgia O’Keefe?

With such vague parameters to sue, will everyone in music start suing everyone now, asks The Washington Post’s Style Blog:

(W)hile “Blurred Lines” might lack imagination, Thick and Williams ultimately only seem guilty of stealing a vibe.

And if vibes are now considered intellectual property, let us swiftly prepare for every idiom of popular music to go crashing into juridical oblivion. Because music is a continuum of ungovernable hybridity, a dialogue between generations where the aesthetic inheritance gets handed down and passed around in every direction. To try and adjudicate influence seems as impossible as it does insane. Is that the precedent being set here?

Read more about why the “Blurred Lines” verdict is controversial HERE.