A US appeals court let stand a $5.3 million judgment awarded to the Marvin Gaye estate over infringement of Gaye's 1977 song 'Got To Give It Up,' by songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams on their 2013 hit 'Blurred Lines'.
By a 2-1 vote, the US Appeals Court said Gaye's 1977 song 'Got To Give It Up' was entitled to "broad" copyright protection. “We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Thicke Parties’ motion for a new trial,” wrote Judge Milan D. Smith Jr.
But Judge Jacqueline Nguyen dissented, saying the songs were not similar enough because they differed in melody, harmony and rhythm. She accused the majority of judges o letting the Gaye Estate "accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style".
Judge Smith disagreed, writing: "Our decision does not grant license to copyright a musical style or ‘groove.’ Nor does it upset the balance Congress struck between the freedom of artistic expression, on the one hand, and copyright protection of the fruits of that expression, on the other hand. … Far from heralding the end of musical creativity as we know it, our decision, even construed broadly, reads more accurately as a cautionary tale for future trial counsel wishing to maximize their odds of success.”
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