Klein & Wilson

Heirs of Marvin Gaye win millions in copyright infringement suit

A jury in California sided with the family of the late R&B legend Marvin Gaye who sued singers Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for infringing Gaye's copyrights with their song "Blurred Lines." An award of almost $7.4 million was granted to the artist's three children.

"Blurred Lines" was one of the biggest hit songs of 2013. Court testimony revealed that Williams and Thicke each earned over $7 million from the song. Williams and Thicke have been very successful, and Williams is a Grammy winner. The lead attorney for Williams and Thicke maintained that the performers had composed the song independently and only meant to emulate the classic R&B sound. Other legal critics of the verdict claimed that it would have a negative effect on other music professionals.

Although the case is expected to be appealed, Gaye's heirs were relieved to have successfully protected their father's legacy. The family's lawyer said that they chose to pursue the lawsuit even though they believed the odds were against them.

As this lawsuit illustrates, copyrights and other types of intellectual property can have substantial market values. It is typically up to a copyright holder to defend his or her property from unlicensed use. A person who believes his or her copyrights are being infringed might turn to an attorney for help asserting rights and claiming rightful revenue. An attorney might be able to explain a client's options for the protection of intellectual property. If legal action needs to be taken, an attorney could also initiate cease and desist communications and a lawsuit to recover damages when necessary.

Source: ABC News, "Jury Finds Pharrell, Thicke Copied for 'Blurred Lines' Song," Anthony McCartney AP, March 11, 2015

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