Even though “Blurred Lines” has been replaced as “song of the summer” a couple of times since its debut in 2013, it lives on in small-town car stereos—and courtrooms. The song’s producer and interpreter (Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, respectively) have spent the last two years defending themselves in court against a lawsuit brought by Marvin Gaye’s family, alleging that they’d ripped off the late singer’s “Got To Give It Up.” The Gayes also went after EMI (who settled out of court), Universal Music Group, Interscope, and reality-TV family man Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr. in their suit.
In March of this year, a jury found in favor of the Gaye family to the tune of $7.3 million, an amount that included both damages and a cut of the song’s profits. The defendants could finally move on: Williams probably started by throwing out his copy of Live At The London Palladium, and Thicke disappeared for a while after releasing a creepy album, only to reappear in full dick mode.
But just as we thought we’d reached the end of the debate on just how much inspiration you can take from (and how much credit you have to give) your idols, the federal judge who oversaw the lawsuit shaved a few ounces off of the Gaye family’s pound of flesh. While preserving the jury verdict, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt reduced the amount of damages to just $3.2 million. The Hollywood Reporter has published the judge’s 56-page decision, in which Kronstadt also made a little jab at Williams by finding that the jury had severely overestimated the profits he had earned from his “homage.”
Kronstadt’s remix of the jury decision also denied the Gaye family’s injunction to have “Blurred Lines” removed from distribution. But he did give them a 50 percent ongoing royalty rate, just in case all of these litigious goings-on have revived interest in the song. He also found that UMG, Interscope, and T.I. were all copyright infringers, which means the rapper’s Ant-Man money will be spent contributing to the awarded judgment.