Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. Officially Appeal 'Blurred Lines' Copyright Verdict


Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. Officially Appeal 'Blurred Lines' Copyright Verdict


Robin, Pharrell and T.I. file their opening brief at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after losing to a copyright infringement battle against Marvin Gaye's estate last year.
Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. have officially filed an appeal brief on "Blurred Lines" verdict. In the opening brief filed at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, August 24, the trio seek to overturn the ruling that awarded $5.3 million in damages to Marvin Gaye's family as well as royalties from "Blurred Lines" last year.

In their legal papers, Robin, Pharrell and T.I. explained that the verdict could inhibit other artists' creative processes in the future. "This outcome created international press coverage and widespread expressions of concern by members of the music community that, if left to stand, the 'Blurred Lines' verdict would chill musical creativity and inhibit the process by which later artists draw inspiration from earlier artists to create new popular music," it stated.

The trio argued that the ruling should be overturned, because there were a "cascade of legal errors" in the judge's verdict in March 2015. "At summary judgment, the district court entertained expert testimony by musicologists for the Gayes who based their opinions entirely on the sound recording, not the deposit copy," the papers said, "The court correctly filtered out non-deposit-copy and generic musical features from their testimony, but then erroneously failed to compare what remained to 'Blurred Lines.' At trial, the district court made things worse."

"While correctly excluding the 'Got to Give It Up' sound recording itself, the court erroneously allowed the Gayes' experts to testify about the sound recording anyway, including by playing their own musical excerpts based on the sound recording. The court then instructed the jury that it could consider all this testimony in its substantial-similarity analysis, failing to instruct them to consider only the protectable elements of the copyrighted work and indeed pointing them explicitly to elements omitted from the deposit copy," it continued.

The appellants pointed out to the recent case involving the creation of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The papers stated, "The importance of instructions that correctly filter out unprotected elements in popular music cases is illustrated by the jury's non-infringement verdict in the recent case involving Led Zeppelin's song 'Stairway to Heaven.' There, unlike here, the district court identified specific musical elements that were not protected by the plaintiff's copyright (e.g., 'descending chromatic scales, arpeggios or short sequences of three notes'), and directed the jury to 'disregard' such elements in assessing similarity."

Robin, Pharrell and T.I. demanded the verdict "should be reversed, or at a minimum, vacated and remanded for new trial."


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