Williams v. Gaye, No. 15-56880 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
These consolidated appeals stemmed from a jury's finding that Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and Clifford Harris, Jr.'s song "Blurred Lines," the world's bestselling single in 2013, infringed Frankie Christian Gaye, Nona Marvisa Gaye, and Marvin Gaye III's copyright in Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit song "Got To Give It Up." The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment. The panel held that "Got To Give It Up" was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions were not confined to a narrow range of expression; the panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district court's ruling that the scope of defendants' copyright was limited, under the Copyright Act of 1909, to the sheet music deposited with the Copyright Office, and did not extend to sound recordings; the district court's order denying summary judgment was not reviewable after a full trial on the merits; the district court did not err in denying a new trial; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting portions of expert testimony; the verdict was not against the clear weight of the evidence; the awards of actual damages and profits and the district court's running royalty were proper; the district court erred in overturning the jury's general verdict in favor of Harris and the Interscope Parties; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Gayes' motion for attorney's fees; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in apportioning costs among the parties.
Court Description: Copyright. The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment after a jury trial, ruling that plaintiffs’ song “Blurred Lines” infringed defendants’ copyright in Marvin Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up.” The panel held that “Got To Give It Up” was entitled to broad copyright protection because musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression. The panel accepted, without deciding, the merits of the district court’s ruling that the scope of the defendants’ copyright was
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 11, 2018.