As part of an appeal for the never-ending “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’s lawyers are arguing that a “groove” or “feeling” of a song is free from copyright.
Thicke and Williams famously lost their case to the Marvin Gaye estate in March 2015, when a judge ruled that “Blurred Lines” was indeed similar to Gaye’s hit “Got to Give It Up” and thus ordered the pair to pay $7.4 million. Lawyers for Thicke and Williams maintain, per an appeal brief, that “a ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot be copyrighted, and inspiration is not copying.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
In the latest filing, attorneys for the duo are asking the 9th Circuit to determine whether a “groove” is protectable and if a judge should have ended this fight himself instead of sending it to a jury.
The brief reiterates that the two songs “are not the same” and points to issues with musicology experts brought in for the trial:
One of the central issues in the appeal is whether U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt erred in his decision that the jury couldn’t hear the original sound recording of Gaye’s song, but that it was appropriate for it to hear a version that was stripped of anything not expressed in the sheet music.
The Gayes argue that the decision to ban the original sound recording favored Thicke and Williams — who argue that Kronstadt was correct to bar the recording but erred in allowing the music experts to testify about it.
Though the payment was later reduced to $5.3 million, lawyers for Thicke and Williams have requested to have the judgment reversed altogether to make way for a new trial. A widespread belief is that the original outcome is bad for the music industry, and various artists have lent support for the appeal.