Nov 23, 2017

Marvin Gaye v. Robin Thicke: How Blurred Are The Lines In This Copyright Suit?

On 6th October 2017, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams filed an appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit against the decision of the District Court for the Central District of California (District Court) which decided that they had infringed Marvin Gaye’s copyright in the song “Blurred Lines”.

As the legal fireworks in the appeal commences, we have decided to examine the issues surrounding this copyright infringement suit and explain its importance to the intellectual property community. 

One of the most successful songs in modern history
The song “Blurred Lines” was released in 2013 by Robin Thicke and featured fellow musicians, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris (also known as T.I). It was a huge hit when it was released, ruling the airwaves for over a year.

In the United States (US), the song debuted at No. 94 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. However, by June 12, 2013, “Blurred Lines” was No. 1 on the charts and had sold over 1 million copies in the US[1].

“Blurred Lines” later peaked at No. 1 in 25 countries, including the United Kingdom (UK) and the US. The song was so successful that it was certified quadruple platinum in Australia and triple platinum in New Zealand[2].

In Canada, the song was the No. 1 song for 13 consecutive weeks. It became the longest-running No. 1 single of 2013 and was Canada's best-selling song of 2013[3]. In the US, it sold over 5 million copies in just 22 weeks and 6 million in 29 weeks thereby becoming the fastest selling song in digital history[4].

By April 2014, the Blurred Lines” single had reached the 7 million mark in sales[5] and by April 2015, it had sold 7,380,000 copies in the US, making it the eighth all-time best-selling digital single[6]. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the song had sold 14.8 million copies by the end of 2013, becoming the best selling song of the year worldwide[7] and one of the best selling songs of all times[8].

It broke the record for the largest radio audience in history[9] and is currently the seventh best-selling digital single of all time. It was the second best-selling song of 2013 in the US and the best-selling song of 2013 in the UK[10]. Subsequently, it was nominated for two Grammys at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in the Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance categories.[11]

Earnings from the song
It is estimated that a total of $16,675,690 was realized in profits for "Blurred Lines." Subsequently, $5,658,214 went to Robin Thicke, $5,153,457 was made by Pharrell Williams and $704,774 went to T.I[12]. The record companies (Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak Entertainment) took the rest of the profits with an executive at Universal Music Group stating that overhead costs on the creation of "Blurred Lines" amounted to $6,900,000[13].

Authorship of the song
In a May 6 2013 interview with GQ Magazine, Robin Thicke claimed that he wrote the song along with Pharrell Williams. He stated that he was in the studio with Pharrell Williams and he informed Pharrell Williams that Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” was one of his favourite songs.. His statement inspired Pharrell Williams who started playing something with a similar tune as the Marvin Gaye song and both artists supposedly wrote “Blurred Lines” in about half an hour and subsequently recorded it.[14]

Clearly, Robin Thicke had a hit on his hands. However, unknown to him, the storms were beginning to gather as the Estate of the late Marvin Gaye had heard the “Blurred Lines” song and would soon commence an action that in my opinion, could affect our perception of copyright protection.

Copyright infringement allegations
The legendary Marvin Gaye is reputed to be one of the greatest soul singers.. He penned several songs such as “Sexual Healing” and “What’s Going On”. He wrote a smash hit titled “Got To Give It Up” in 1977. It was released under Motown Records (now a subdivision of Universal Records). Marvin Gaye died in 1984 leaving the copyright to his collection of songs to his children.

After reading several interviews which Robin Thicke gave to the press, the Mavin Gaye family started to insist that Robin Thicke had infringed on Marvin Gaye’s copyright by sampling some portions of “Got to Give it Up”. Robin Thicke did not take too kindly to these accusations and he proceeded to file a suit against the Estate of Marvin Gaye at the District Court in August 2013. He was not seeking monetary reliefs but sought a declaration from the court to determine if the composers of “Blurred Lines” can be held liable for copyright infringement on the basis that they were influenced by Marvin Gaye’s song, but did not actually sample such prior works or literally copy any of Marvin Gaye’s music or lyrics. Put differently, could they be deemed liable for copyright infringement if all they did was evoke an era and the “feel” of Marvin Gaye’s music?

Marvin Gaye’s family took the bait and counter-sued in April 2014, claiming that they were entitled to damages as “Blurred Lines” infringed on Marvin Gaye’s copyright. In addition to Robin Thicke, the producer and co-writer Pharrell Williams, guest rapper T.I. and Universal Records were also joined in the suit.

In a shocking twist during the trial, Robin Thicke informed the jury that he did not compose “Blurred Lines” as he claimed he was drunk and high on alcohol and vicodine when he recorded the song. He also claimed that he was inebriated when he gave the GQ Magazine interview and other interviews where he claimed authorship of the song. He also informed the court that he did not consider himself an honest person[15]

On his part, Pharrell Williams asserted that he wrote the song and that although he drew influences from Marvin Gaye, he intended to replicate the “vibe feeling” of the genre. He stated that there was no intention to rip off Marvin Gaye’s song.

In the second part of this series, we will consider the arguments that were raised by both parties to the lawsuit and examine the decision reached by the jury at the close of the arguments. This will be considered in line with the position of the copyright laws to determine if the eventual decision reached by the jury was proper in law.

Partner, Intellectual property and brand protection at ǼLEX/Corporate & Commercial Lawyer

Source: Linkedin 

[1]Gary Trust, ‘Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Hits No. 1 on Hot 100’ (Billboard Articles 6 December 2013) <>
[2] Australian Recording Industry Association, ‘RIA Charts - Accreditations - 2013 Singles’ <>
[3] Billboard, ‘Canada’s Digital Music Sales Rise in 2013 Unlike the U.S.; Eminem, Robin Thicke Among Top Selling Artists’
[5] Paul Grein, ‘Chart Watch: Former Teen Stars Make Good!(Yahoo, 23 April 2014)
[6]Rumor Mill, ‘The Rise of "Uptown Funk": Could It Become the All-Time #1 Seller’
[7]Stuart Dredge, ‘Global music sales fell in 2013 despite strong growth for streaming services’ (The Guardian 18 March 2014)
[8] IFPI, ‘Digital Music Report 2014’
[9] Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' sets radio audience record
[10] Chart Watch: The Top 10 Albums and Songs of 2013
[11] Grammy Awards 2014: Full Nominations List
[12]Nolan Feeney, ‘Here's Exactly How Much Money 'Blurred Lines' Made (Time 4 March 2015) <>
[13]Pamela Chelin, ‘Court case reveals exactly how much money Pharrell and Robin Thicke made off 'Blurred Lines' (Business Insider 4 March 2015)
[14] Stelios Phili, ‘Robin Thicke on That Banned Video, Collaborating with 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, and His New Film’ (GQ Magazine 6 May 2013)
[15]Eriq Gardner , ‘Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Deposition Unsealed: "I Was High and Drunk" (Hollywood Reporter 24 October 2015)




    We are Currently offering a floating loan scheme at interest rate of 2% with proper valid identity card for verification.
    You can send your loan request for any amount of loan you need.
    We offer loans ranging from $5,000.00 USD Min. $50,000,000.00 USD Max.
    We long-term credit from five (5) to fifty (50) years maximum.
    We give the following type of loan: Project loan, Refinance loan, business investment loans, car or vehicle Loans, Student loan, debt consolidation, housing Loans, Personal loans, travel and vacation loan, Christmas and new year loan.
    Our company also need a person that can be our company representative in your country.
    Contact our STEPHEN WILLIAMS FINANCIAL LOAN FIRM office via email:
    If you are interested in our financial offer and wants to acquire a loan from us, contact us and give us the details below, and that will be needed to initiate the loan sum terms and conditions accordingly.
    Name: ____________________________
    Gender: _______________________________
    Marital status: _______________________
    Contact Address: ______________________
    City / Zip: ________________________
    Country: ______________________________
    Date of Birth: ________________________
    Amount Needed as Loan: ________________
    Loan Duration: ________________________
    Monthly Income / Yearly Income: _________
    Occupation: ___________________________
    Purpose for Loan: _____________________
    Phone: ________________________________
    Fax: __________________________________
    In recognition of these details will be sent a well calculated Terms and Conditions including the agreement.
    Thank you for your patronage!
    Best Regards,
    Twiiter: @stephenswillsl1
    Instagram: stephenswillsloan

  2. Do you need a quick long or short term loan with a relatively low interest rate as low as 3%? We offer business loan, personal loan, home loan, auto loan, student loan, debt consolidation loan e.t.c. no matter your credit score. We are guaranteed in giving out financial services to our numerous clients all over the world. With our flexible lending packages, loans can be processed and transferred to the borrower within the shortest time possible. We encourage you to contact us and learn more about the loans service we offered. If you have any questions or want more information about our company, please do not hesitate to contact us:
    1) Full Name:
    2) Gender:
    3) Loan Amount Needed:.
    4) Loan Duration:
    5) Country:
    6) Home Address:
    7) Mobile Number:
    8)Monthly Income:
    )Which did you here about us.

  3. loan! loan!! loan!!!
    Are you looking for a reputable and accredited private loan company that provides loans for lifetime opportunity. We offer all types of loans in a very fast and easy way, personal loans, car loans, mortgage loans, student loans, business loans, investment loans, debt consolidation and much more. Have you been rejected by banks and other financial institutions? Do you need a consolidation loan or a mortgage? Do not look any more like we are here to make all your financial problems a thing of the past. We lend funds to individuals and companies that need financial assistance at a rate of 2%. No social security number required and no credit check required, 100% guaranteed. I want to use this medium to inform you that we provide reliable and supportive assistance and we will be happy to offer you a loan.
    Then send us an email to: ( to apply for a loan

    Hi everyone, i am Alexis Ohanian am so glade coming back to this great forum to testify about the help i received from Chester Brian. I was in desperate need of a loan in other to be free from debt and financial bondage that was place on me by my ex husband. It was really bad that i have to seek for help from Friends,family and even my bank but on one could assist me because my credit score was really bad. So i was browsing with my computer and saw some testimonies from people Chester Brian assisted with a loan, then i decided to contact him on his email {}, then i received a mail from them and i did all that was asked from me. To my greatest surprise they transferred to my account the loan i requested and now i am so happy clearing my debt and have also started a business with the remaining amount to take care of myself and family. If you need a loan do contact the best loan lender of all time Chester Brian on his email: {}


    I am Michelle Huxford from Casper, Wyoming. I was in a very chronic financial issue and terminal health situation some few weeks back. After all my search for assistance from friends and neighbors proved abortive, I feel there was no one who truly cares. I became so emaciated due to lack of good food and my 2 kids age 5 and 8 were not also good looking due to lack of proper care as a result of finance. One faithful morning I saw an old time friend of my late husband and I told him all I have been going through and he said the only way he could help was to direct me to a good loan agency that also helped him, He explained to me on how he was financially down and how he got boosted by this loan agency UPSTART LOAN INC ( ) who grant him 245,000 USD loan at an affordable rate. He further assured me that they were the only legit loan firm he found in the quest of seeking for loan after been scammed by various fake loan lenders online. He gave me their email: or text/call (574) 301-1639, That was how i applied and was also granted a loan and my life changed for the good. CONTACT THE ONLY GENUINE LENDERS( UPSTART LOAN INC) VIA email: or call +1 (574) 301-1639 to resolve your financial mess. =-=-=-



LCA_YAN Moot Competition


The Nigerian blawg

Disclaimer:- Posts and comments by the publishers of this blog do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

Follow by Email

Advertise your property

Property Listings

  • SALE-4bedroom duplex With 3 living rooms. Located at Opic Harmony Estate. Asking 80m Title Global C of O/ consent in progress. 08055424566
  • FOR SALE 8bedroom duplex 2 living rooms With 2 rooms BQ N150m Located off CMD Road Magodo Registered Title Contact 08055424566
  • Property for Rent – New Building, 4 unit luxury 2 bedroom flat available at Rafiu Ipaye Street, Ijesha, Surulere. Ground floor back flat- 700k per anum, First floor back flat – 750k per anum, 2nd floor back flat – 750k, 2nd floor front flat – 800k. Service charge - 75k per anum. Refundable caution – 70k. Call 08055424566 for details.
  • Property For Sale!!! A fenced and gated uncompleted 3 bedroom site on a full plot of land is available for sale at Igbetu via Awoyaya, behind Mayfair Gardepn Estate, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos for sale. Price is N20million and Title Documents include, Family Receipt,  Deed of Assignment and Global C of O. Contact 08055424566 for more information
  • PROPERTY FOR SALE!!!!!!!!  A 5 Bedroom Duplex with 2 room BQ formerly used for a Nursery & Primary school is available for sale in Iyana Ipaja, Lagos  Building contains 9 CLASSROOMS, 2 OFFICE SPACES, 1 LARGE RECEPTION, 8 TOILETS, 5 BATHROOMS, KITCHEN,PLAY AREA. The seller's title is a certificate of Occupancy and the asking price is 35 million Naira.  Contact 08055424566 for more details 
  • List your property for rent or sale here



Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.