Like a zombie that just won’t stay dead, the “Blurred Lines” case keeps coming back. While the 2015 verdict, in which Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and the song’s publisher were ordered to pay nearly $5 million to Marvin Gaye’s family for infringing upon the late singer’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up,” was basically upheld last year after an appeal, Gaye’s family filed a motion today that claims Williams recently perjured himself in a recent interview with GQ when talking about the case. (The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.)
In an interview with veteran producer Rick Rubin, Williams said he sometimes “reverse engineers” a sound from a previous record, which is precisely what caused the “Blurred Lines” loss, where the jury determined that Williams and Thicke had copied Gaye’s song’s “feel.”
“I did that in ‘Blurred Lines’ and got myself in trouble,” Williams says in the interview. But in testimony under oath during the trial, Williams said, “I did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye.”
The Gaye family, which is still represented by attorney Richard Busch, claims this constitutes fraud and evidence of perjury. Among other things, they are seeking a whopping $3.5 million in attorney fees.
“Williams made intentional, material misrepresentations to the jury and this Court as part of an unconscionable scheme to improperly influence the jury and the Court in their decisions,” the motion, obtained by Variety, reads. “Nothing was more central to this case than whether ‘Got to [Give It Up]’ or Marvin Gaye was on Williams’s mind while he was engaged in creating ‘Blurred [Lines].’ That fact was central to the issue of whether Williams and Thicke illegally copied ‘Got To’ and whether their copying was willful, and they knew it. It was also central to their defense of ‘independent creation.’ And it became central in this Court’s analysis of whether to award attorneys’ fees.”
“The November 4, 2019 Interview now flies in the face of those previous sworn denials,” the motion continues.
In the interview, Williams and Rubin basically dispute the court’s ruling. Rubin says the two songs — meaning the songs themselves — are nothing alike.
“Nope, but the feeling was,” Williams says.
“Yeah, but the feeling is not something you can copyright,” Rubin says.
“No, you can’t copyright a feeling,” agreed Williams. “All songs sound pretty much the same.”
The upshot of the ruling essentially was that a feeling can be copyrighted.
While the similarities between the two songs were noted upon the 2013 release of “Blurred Lines,” it wasn’t until 2015 that were ordered to pay the late singer’s estate more than $7 million, which was later reduced to $5.3 million on appeal.
In March, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals mostly affirmed a jury’s 2015 $5.3 million verdict — but it did clear rapper T.I., who appears on Thicke’s song, as well as Interscope Records, which released it.