Pharrell Williams Warns of Chilling Effect on Creativity of ‘Blurred Lines’ Judgment

'You can’t own feelings and you can’t own emotions'

“You can’t own emotions,” singer Pharrell Williams has said in his first interview since losing the “Blurred Lines” copyright case.

Williams warned the ruling could have a chilling effect on creativity. “The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” Williams told the Financial Times.

“This applies to fashion, music, design… anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas.”

A federal court in Los Angeles had ruled his song “Blurred Lines” infringed the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” and ordered Williams and the singer Robin Thicke to pay damages of $7.3 million to the Gaye estate. On Thursday, the Gaye family filed an injunction to stop the copying, distributing and performing of “Blurred Lines.”

Williams claimed “Blurred Lines” did not break copyright rules. “There was no infringement,” he said. “You can’t own feelings and you can’t own emotions… there are only the notations and the progression. Those were different.”

He added: “Everything that’s around you in a room was inspired by something or someone. If you kill that, there’s no creativity.”

Williams has attracted backing from other entertainment industry figures. “The award seems to have been made on the mood of the song, which is extraordinary,” Paul McGuinness, the former manager of U2, told the FT.

Producer Harvey Weinstein said the case could have an impact on Hollywood. “I’m very concerned about the notion that feeling or having a piece of art that feels like something else can be infringement,” he said.

“Everyone quotes things, even subconsciously, but this can be a disruptive decision,” he added. “What filmmaker couldn’t sue another filmmaker for making a movie that feels like another one? It’s deeply troubling.”

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