Report: Pharrell Williams Warns Of Copycat Litigation
March 19, 2015 at 2:26 PM (PT)
PHARELL WILLIAMS has warned creativity could well be chilled with the risk of copycat litigation following the landmark court decision last week that "Blurred Lines" infringed the copyright of MARVIN GAYE's "Got To Give It Up" to the tune of $7.3 million (NET NEWS, 3/10), according to an article in FINANCIAL TIMES.
Although the tracks have a similar sound and feel, they have different note and chord sequences. A music expert called as a witness for the estate testified that there was a “constellation” of similar elements in the song.
“The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” WILLIAMS said in his first interview since the ruling. “This applies to fashion, music, design -- anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas.”
The GAYE family filed a new injunction today in court to prevent the copying, distributing and performing of “Blurred Lines." “With the digital age upon us, the threat of greater infringement looms for every artist,” the family said in a statement.
The GAYE estate owns the copyright to the “Got to Give It Up” song, but not the recording itself.
WILLIAMS claimed there was no infringement because "you can’t own feelings and you can’t own emotions ... [in music] there are only the notations and the progression,” which he insisted "were different."
“Blurred Lines” generated nearly $17m in profits, according to court documents.
“It’s a very peculiar decision because the ruling did not refer to the usual infringements that artists can be sued over, such as the writing of the song or the writing of the track,” said former U2 manager PAUL McGUINNESS. “The award seems to have been made on the mood of the song, which is extraordinary.”
OSCAR-winning movie producer HARVEY WEINSTEIN told FT that HOLLYWOOD could also be affected by the court decision.
“I’m very concerned about the notion that feeling or having a piece of art that feels like something else can be infringement,” he said. “Everyone quotes things, even subconsciously, but this can be a disruptive decision. What filmmaker couldn’t sue another filmmaker for making a movie that feels like another one? It’s deeply troubling.”
WILLIAMS hasn't yet said whether he and ROBIN THICKE will appeal the verdict, but he noted a key part of the creative process is inspiration. “Everything that’s around you in a room was inspired by something or someone,” he said. “If you kill that, there’s no creativity.”