Blurred Lines plagiarism: Thicke and Williams to pay $7.4m

Did Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams plagiarise Marvin Gaye's Got to Give It Up? Listen to both

Pharrell Williams arrives in court
(Image credit: 2015 Getty Images)

A jury awarded £7.4m in damages to the family of Marvin Gaye after finding that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had plagiarised the late singer to create the 2013 hit song Blurred Lines.

Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona Gaye cried when the verdict was delivered and hugged her lawyer, Richard Busch, the BBC reports.

"Right now, I feel free, " Nona Gaye said after the verdict. "Free from ... Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told. "

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In the course of the trial, Williams agreed that his hit song Blurred Lines had a "late-70s feeling" but denied that he had copied Marvin Gaye's Got to Give It Up in composing the controversial single.

The Gayes’ lawyer said that Williams and Thicke had done more than just emulate the sound of Gaye’s music and had copied Got to Give It Up outright.

Williams conceded that there are parallels between his song and Gaye's but insists that he was not thinking about Got to Give It Up when he was writing Blurred Lines.

"Sometimes when you look back on your past work, you see echoes of people," Williams said in court in Los Angeles. "But that doesn't mean that's what you were doing."

Williams added that he had deep admiration for Gaye.

"The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else's when you love him," Williams said. "I respect his music beyond words."

The song made more than $16m (£10.8) in profits, $5m (£3m) of which was shared between Williams and Thicke.

The 41-year-old said that Blurred Lines had drawn influences from two other songs he was working on at the time, one for singer Miley Cyrus and another for rapper Earl Sweatshirt.

"In this case I started with drums," he said in court, describing the song writing process. "I was doing a bunch of country-sounding music with Miley. It was like blending this country sound with this up-tempo groove.

"Once you have a groove, then you're pretty much allowing the groove to tell you what's next."

After excerpts of both songs were played in court, Williams admitted that "it sounds like you're playing the same thing", but argued that the pitch had been shifted and some of the note progressions had been changed so that the two sounded more alike.

In reaching its verdict, the jury was asked to consider detailed analysis of the chord progressions, rhythms and notes used in both songs. The verdict is expected to face years of appeals.

Hear both songs for yourself:

Got to Give It Up – Marvin Gaye

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, T.I.

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