Marvin Gaye’s Family: 'Blurred Lines' Jury Is Being Poisoned

Marvin Gaye’s Family: 'Blurred Lines' Jury Is Being Poisoned

Court proceedings enter a second week, attorney files motion over distinction between song recording and sheet music.

Published March 3, 2015

The family of Marvin Gaye claims jurors in the “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement trial are being mentally “poisoned,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Gaye’s children are suing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the 2-year-old hit, accusing the musicians of stealing from the deceased singer’s 1970 single, “Got to Give It Up.”

Since the family’s claims are over composition, jurors will not hear the original recording so as to not confuse them. A judge has allowed for the “stripped down” version of the song to be played at the trail. 

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Thicke’s attorney could have jurors review the actual sheet music to compare notes to determine if Gaye’s music was lifted to create “Blurred Lines.” However, the opposing side argues that the sound recording “is not irrelevant” to the case.

“The jury is being confused and will likely believe, unless this matter is clarified, that the Gayes have no rights in the musical composition as embodied in such recording,” Richard Busch, lawyer for the Gaye’s filed in a motion Monday (March 2). “This will further reinforce the improper remarks by the Thicke Parties… and will continue to prejudice the Gaye Parties. These blurred lines must be sharpened and focused."

There’s also another discrepancy on the table, regarding the ownership of the allegedly stolen copyright. Busch asserts that the Gayes never “claimed ownership” of the sound recording itself, which is owned by Motown Records. That doesn’t change the root of the suit, Busch wrote. “The Thicke Parties have committed copyright infringement by copying the musical composition as embodied in those sound recordings. The jury simply will not understand that fine distinction unless specifically instructed. It is confusing, wrong and entirely prejudicial.”

Thicke’s defenses have changed a bit. He originally attempted an out-of-court settlement with the family, which would imply that he believed they should have been compensated for the music, but later filed a pre-emptive lawsuit. He now says that he was highly intoxicated during the actual writing and recording of “Blurred Lines,” which would put much of the legal responsibility on Williams, who co-wrote, produced, and sang on the track. 

During testimony last week, Thicke admitted to lying in various interviews (including a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey) where he said “Blurred Lines” was influenced by Gaye. 

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(Photos from left: Rob Verhorst/Redferns, Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Foxtail Nightclub)

Written by Latifah Muhammad

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