A Los Angeles federal judge Thursday rejected a motion for summary judgment brought by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in a copyright infringement lawsuit over the megahit “Blurred Lines.”
The pop stars were sued by the children of R&B legend Marvin Gaye, who allege that key elements of “Blurred Lines” were lifted from Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
Writing credits on “Blurred Lines” are shared by Thicke, Williams and rapper T.I., while the production is credited to Williams.
Attorneys for the entertainers had urged U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt to forgo a jury trial and rule in their favor against the Gaye family because, the pop stars contend, there is no “meaningful similarity” between the two songs.
Kronstadt, however, wrote that the Gaye family has made a sufficient showing that elements of “Blurred Lines” may be “substantially similar to protected, original elements” of “Got to Give It Up.”
A trial is tentatively set for February.
Nona Gaye and Frankie Gaye’s suit, filed last year, also accuses Thicke of lifting from their father’s “After the Dance” for the title track of his 2011 album “Love After War.”
The 25-page motion for summary judgment details alleged differences in melody, rhythm, harmony, structure and lyrics between the contested songs.
Attorneys for Thicke and Williams argue that eight alleged similarities to “Got to Give It Up” claimed by the Gaye family are “based on commonplace elements” of the late soul singer’s “sound recording” that were not included in the sheet music he submitted to the copyright office in 1977 to register his copyright.
Thus, the eight alleged similarities “are not part of his copyrighted composition that defendants claim to own,” according to the motion, which alleges that the Gaye family owns the composition, not the recording of “Got to Give It Up.”
As a result, according to the pop stars’ argument, any alleged similarity between “Blurred Lines” and the Marvin Gaye recording of “Got to Give It Up” is “irrelevant.”
In interviews last year with GQ and Billboard magazines, Thicke said “Got to Give It Up” was one of his favorite songs and he wanted to “make something like that, something with that groove.”
“Blurred Lines” has sold about 15 million copies worldwide, according to Billboard.
— Staff and wire reports