A 2015 federal court decision currently on appeal in the 9th Circuit could have significant ramifications for the music industry. The case involves Marvin Gaye’s estate suing Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. for alleged copyright infringement regarding their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.” Gaye’s estate claims that “Blurred Lines” uses the same “groove” as Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” from 1977.
During the trial, Thicke apparently treated jurors to a live concert in which he played songs from U2, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles to show them that many music legends use similar chords. The jury apparently was unconvinced and awarded Gaye’s estate $7.4 million in damages and ongoing royalties (later reduced to $5.3 million).
The pending appeal likely will affect copyright infringement cases, and many musicians have already signed a petition expressing their concern that upholding the lower court’s decision will negatively affect creativity. In fact, copyright infringement cases already have increased in the last couple of years—perhaps as a direct result of the “Blurred Lines” decision.