Well this case (might) finally (maybe) be over (maybe)
A three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld the original verdict, ruling that Thicke and Pharrell will, indeed, have to pay millions to the Gaye family. (The only change is that T.I., featured on the song, no longer has to pay.)
The precedent that it sets is bad news for creativity, as Judge Nguyen wrote — it allows the Gayes to “copyright a style.” Judge Smith does not appear to recognize the door he’s opened for older artists to sue current artists for acknowledging the former’s influence on their work. The original verdict is a dangerous and slippery slope that allows acrimony and general bad faith to come between artists who should and would otherwise appreciate each other. It’s also completely responsible for the litigious environment surrounding popular music in the time since the “Blurred Lines” verdict came down. I can think of a number of songs in the current top 20 that could be equally as guilty of this new type of infringement if this indeed is the new standard.
The ultimate effect will be to limit creativity and stifle innovation, which goes against the very reason these ideas were included in the Constitution in the first place: to promote the arts, not to determine and/or to protect ownership.
And one last time, here are the two songs in question
Marvin Gaye – “Got to Give it Up” (1977)
Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines” (2013)