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“Blurred Lines” appeal argues that you can’t copyright a funky groove, man

(Photo: Getty Images For Walmart, Jamie McCarthy)
(Photo: Getty Images For Walmart, Jamie McCarthy)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have come up with an interesting strategy in their attempt to appeal the verdict of the big “Blurred Lines” copyright trial from 2015, when Marvin Gaye’s family successfully sued them for ripping off Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Williams and Thicke’s defense has always been that their song is substantially different from Gaye’s, but now they’ve pivoted their argument a little bit by saying that the thing they supposedly copied from Gaye can’t actually be copyrighted in the first place.

Specifically, Thicke and Williams’ latest appeal says that “a ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot by copyrighted, and inspiration is not copying,” so if they inadvertently took inspiration from “Got To Give It Up” and ended up with the same “groove,” it doesn’t mean they necessarily copied the original song. Furthermore, because the U.S. Copyright Office only took the written sheet music for “Got To Give It Up” when it was originally released, the judge decided not to allow the jury on the “Blurred Lines” case to actually hear the recorded version of Gaye’s song. Instead, they could only hear a version that was “stripped of anything” not present in the original notation. According to Thicke and Williams, the sheet music proves that the two songs aren’t that similar, as the only thing that’s actually similar between the two of them is the aforementioned “groove.”

So, Thicke and Williams are hoping they can get this thing reversed by asking a judge if it’s really possible to own a copyright on something as vague and nebulous as a “feeling.”

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