Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s 2013 track “Blurred Lines” received backlash for many reasons, one of which was that it’s explicitly about sexual assault. But another has to do with Marvin Gaye. About a year after the song’s debut, Williams and Thicke became embroiled in legal trouble when Gaye’s estate filed a lawsuit against the pair, accusing them of knowingly ripping off his classic “Got to Give Up” on the hit track.
Fast forward a year and Gaye’s family won over $7 million from the lawsuit, but it didn’t stop there. After more back-and-forth, a judge finally ruled in 2018 that both Thicke and Williams were to cough up $5 million to the family, reduced from the original price. But now, the family has reignited the lengthy court battle, accusing Williams of perjury and requesting an additional $3.5 million.
Though Williams and Thicke had previously parted ways with over $5 million, Variety reports Gaye’s estate is now accusing the “Uptown Funk” singer of committing perjury in the initial trial. Citing his recent GQ interview with Rick Rubin, the family says Williams admitted to “reverse-engineering” the song, which he had previously denied to in court.
The source of the alleged perjury arrives in the interview when the singer admitted to “reverse-engineering the feeling” of a song that he likes. While both Rubin and Williams agree that “you can’t copyright a feeling,” the singer does explicitly mention the lawsuit. “I did that in ‘Blurred Lines’ and got myself in trouble,” he said to Rubin. Williams’ original 2015 under-oath statement was, “I did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye.”
According to Variety‘s report, Gaye’s family lawyer is using the quote in court. “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,” said attorney Richard Busch. “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.”
Time will tell if courts once again side with Gaye’s estate, or if the original ruling will stand.