Credit: Harper SmithRobin Thicke took the stand in federal court in Los Angeles Wednesday, facing the family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye. They’ve sued, claiming that Robin’s 2013 smash “Blurred Lines” borrowed improperly from Marvin’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
In testimony before the court, Robin acknowledged that “Got to Give It Up” is both a classic and one of his personal favorites. Robin’s co-writer and co-defendent, Pharrell Williams, was also in the courthouse Wednesday morning, but had not yet made a courtroom appearance.
Earlier in the day, Janis Gaye, Marvin’s second wife, took the stand to say that at first, she thought “Blurred Lines” was great and had brought new life to “Got to Give It Up,” but later realized the song’s creators had not licensed the rights to her husband’s song.
Whether or not “Blurred Lines” was merely influenced by the feel of the Marvin Gaye hit, or actually infringes on the copyright of the earlier song by using its key musical elements — especially its melody — is at the heart of the arguments in the case, which is expected to last around two weeks. One expert believes that the Gaye family doesn’t really have a case.
“Nothing original has been copied by Robin Thicke,” Professor Michael Harrington, Music Business Program chair at SAE Institute Nashville, tells ABC News Radio. “The only things that are similar, I think, are the style and the speed and the instrumentation. But that’s really not enough.”
But it remains to be seen whether or not the jury of five women and three men hearing the case will agree with Harrington’s analysis.
At stake is an enormous portion of the money generated by Robin’s six-times platinum single. “It could be anywhere from a quarter to 25 percent of the money earned, to 100 percent, at the most crazy,” says Harrington. “It could be very substantial.”
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.