Last year, a California court ruled that the Robin Thicke and Pharrell song was an infringement of Marvin Gaye's copyright
While more than a year has passed since a jury gave its verdict that rock stars Pharell Williams, Robin Thicke, and TI would have to reach into their pockets and pay $7.3m for their 2013 global smash hit song Blurred Lines to the estate of Marvin Gaye for infringing upon his own 1977 song Got to Give You Up. That verdict sent shivers down the spines of many in the music industry, with the result that this week 212 musicians, composers, and producers are appealing the decision.
Filing an amicus curiae brief, essentially a non-petitioned document from parties not involved in a case but who wish to offer a dissenting point of view to the court, the group claims the current judgment “is certain to stifle creativity” and eliminate “any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying.”
The list of names attached to the letter includes a number of very diverse musicians, including: Hall & Oates, Linkin Park, Jason Mraz, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Tears for Fears, Jennifer Hudson, R. Kelly, and Hans Zimmer.
According to the letter, if a song’s general feel or vibe is a matter of copyright, then any future songwriter who takes inspiration from previous works of music could be liable for legal action. They believe this poses a considerable threat to musicians struggling to start their careers and to the music industry as a whole.
“One can imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassie [sic], or if The Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from The Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences,” the letter reads.
Pharrell also spoke about his concerns over the verdict last year, also drawing parallels to legal battles going on in other creative industries beyond music.
Since the 2015 Blurred Lines verdict, Ed Sheeran has also been served with a lawsuit that he “knowingly and intentionally” infringed upon the copyright of another Marvin Gaye song. This time, the family of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On, claim the British rocker’s Grammy-winning hit Thinking Out Loud drew more than inspiration from the 1973 classic.