A jury Tuesday handed down the decision that the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed on the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up.” The jury awarded Gaye’s family more than $7.3 million, consisting of $4 million in damages and $3.3 million in profits earned from the success of “Blurred Lines,” reports The New York Times.
The $7.3 million is one of the biggest damages awarded in any music copyright case, yet it was only a fraction of the $25 million the Gaye family originally sought, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The case was also relatively rare because it went to court, while music infringement cases are typically settled privately. The series of suits over “Blurred Lines'” similarity to “Got to Give It Up” was actually initiated by Williams and Thicke. The pair preemptively sued the Gaye family after receiving threats of a lawsuit, with Thicke’s lawyer saying the family was “claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work,” reports Vox. The Gaye family countersued, winning the allotted sum.
$7.3 Million Judgment Is Two-Thirds of Thicke and Pharrell’s Earnings From “Blurred Lines”
But how much is a No. 1 hit like “Blurred Lines” worth to the artists, producers and performers involved? The case revealed the success of “Blurred Lines,” giving specifics where there are usually only industry estimates. The “Blurred Lines” profits break down as follows:
- $5.6 million to Robin Thicke
- $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, who produced, co-wrote and performed the song
- $700,000 to T.I. whose vocals are featured on the track
- $16.7 million to record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak
- $11 million in touring income generated by the success of “Blurred Lines”
These profits total $39.2 million. Thicke and Williams’ combined profit for the song is $10.8 (not including touring income). The $7.3 million judgment against the pair would account for more than two-thirds (67.6 percernt) of their earnings from “Blurred Lines.”
The damages will also hurt a lot more for Thicke than Williams. If the $7.3 million damages are split evenly between the two each will pay $3.65 million. That amount is only 4.6 percent of Williams’ $80 million net worth, but is 24.3 percent of Thicke’s $15 million net worth, as reported by CelebrityNetWorth.
The silver lining to losing the case for Thicke and Williams might be a boost in publicity and possibly sales of the track — but the Gaye family is also seeking to stop the sales of “Blurred Lines” for up to a week or more, reports Rolling Stone magazine.
“We’ll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of ‘Blurred Lines’ unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared,” said the Gaye family’s attorney Richard Busch to Rolling Stone.
In the course of the trial, other details also emerged, including Thicke’s confession that he was high on drugs and alcohol through the production and recording of “Blurred Lines” and the song had been almost wholly composed by Williams. Yet Thicke still claimed a songwriting credit alongside Williams.
“The biggest hit of my career was written by somebody else, and I was jealous and wanted credit,” Thicke said in court, according to The New York Times.