Was the 'Blurred Lines' verdict unfair? | The Tylt
Was the 'Blurred Lines' verdict unfair?
While some of Gaye's fans have thought for years that "Blurred Lines" is a knock-off, others think the ruling sets an unfair precedent moving forward for music copyright cases. Historically, music has had similar rhythms and riffs, but critics say "Blurred Lines" didn't literally copy "Got to Give It Up."
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. According to Forbes' Zachary Elsea, even judges disagree on the decision:
The majority opinion, written by Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., emphasized that the case was “decided ... on narrow grounds” related to the procedural peculiarities of the case. The majority stated that the Court of Appeals was not permitted to closely scrutinize whether “Blurred Lines” actually infringed on “Got To Give It Up," because Williams and Thicke failed to move for judgment as a matter of law at trial before the jury returned its verdict. According to the opinion, this meant that the panel was all but obligated to uphold the verdict. Judge Smith concluded, “We cannot say that there was an absolute absence of evidence supporting the jury’s verdict."
Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen sharply disagreed, arguing that “the majority allow the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.” According to Judge Nguyen, Pharrell and Thicke are entitled to judgment of non-infringement as a matter of copyright law. Judge Nguyen criticized the majority for not engaging with that question, and stated that she would have concluded that the allegedly infringed elements were not copyrightable and that there was no substantial similarity between the songs.