March 21, 2018 / 3:20 PM / 10 months ago

Marvin Gaye heirs prevail in appeal over 'Blurred Lines' plagiarism

March 21 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday let stand a $5.3 million judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for allegedly copying a Marvin Gaye song to create their 2013 smash hit “Blurred Lines.”

By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” was entitled to “broad” copyright protection.

Circuit Judge Milan Smith said the jury verdict in favor of Gaye’s family and against Thicke and Williams could stand because there was “not an absolute absence of evidence” of similarity between the two songs.

The court also restored the jury’s finding that Clifford Harris, a rapper known as T.I. who contributed a verse to “Blurred Lines,” should not be liable for infringement, saying the trial judge erred in overturning that verdict.

Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen dissented, said the songs were not similar enough because they differed in melody, harmony and rhythm, and accused the majority of letting the Gayes “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.”

Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Tom Brown)

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