By: Tyler Aquilina
At long last, it seems the "Blurred Lines" copyright lawsuit has been put to rest for good.
The contentious case — in which Marvin Gaye's family alleged Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke ripped off Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" for their hit 2013 single — concluded in 2018 with a controversial ruling that Williams and Thicke were liable for copyright infringement. In December 2019, however, Gaye's family filed a motion in federal court accusing Williams of committing perjury during the case.
The plaintiffs cited a GQ interview from November of that year in which Williams said he "reverse engineered" Gaye's song, arguing that this contradicted his statement during a deposition that he "did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye."
Discussing his music production process in the GQ interview, Williams said, "We try to figure out if we can build a building that doesn't look the same, but makes you feel the same way. I did that in 'Blurred Lines,' and got myself in trouble."
On Friday, in what seems to be the final note of the long legal saga, a California federal judge ruled that Williams' statements did not show he committed perjury.
"The statements by Williams during the November 2019 Interview were cryptic and amenable to multiple interpretations," U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt wrote. "For example, it is unclear what Williams meant by 'reverse-engineer[ing].' Read in context, Williams statement about 'reverse-engineering' could be interpreted as a process in which he remembers his feelings when listening to particular music, and then attempts to recreate those feelings in his own works. This is not inconsistent with his deposition testimony, in which he claimed that he realized after creating 'Blurred Lines' that the feeling he tried to capture in the song, was one that he associated with Marvin Gaye."
"For these reasons, the Gaye Parties have not shown by clear and compelling evidence that there are sufficiently material inconsistencies between Williams' statements in the November 2019 Interview and his sworn testimony, to support a finding of perjury," the ruling continues.
Gaye's family had been seeking about $3.5 million in attorney fees and costs, which Judge Kronstadt had denied them in the copyright suit. He did, however, award the family damages as well as half of all future royalties for "Blurred Lines."