‘Blurred Lines’ Trial Verdict: Jury Rules Against Thicke & Williams

After a year and a half long lawsuit, a federal jury ruled in favor of Marvin Gaye’s estate, finding that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams committed copyright infringement in regards to their hit song “Blurred Lines” plagiarizing Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”  As a result, co-writers, Thicke and Williams will be required to pay Gaye’s children more than $7.3 million.

The case has opened a dialog in both the media and within the music industry regarding the fine line between being inspired by past works and imitating them. In a joint statement responding to the verdict, Thicke and Williams said “we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward.”

While copyright cases are common in the music industry, this particular case is unique for its large damages and because it reached a jury at all. In most cases, patent claims are settled out of court, such as the recent dispute between Tom Petty and Sam Smith over “Stay With Me.”

For more information about this you can see Billboard and The New York Times

Licensing, Beastie Boys, and Monster Energy

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Beastie Boys are suing Monster Energy Co. (makers of the popular energy drink) for almost $2.4 million for copyright infringement and legal fees. The incident came about when Monster released a web video featuring a remix of several Beastie Boys songs to promote an upcoming event. While Monster received permission from the D.J. who mixed the track, the company stopped short of clearing the use with all parties, including the Beastie Boys.

In an article on lrrmvp.com, an Intellectual Property Blog, Lewis Roca Rothgerber identifies three takeaways to avoid such situations when using music in videos.  “Make sure all third party rights are cleared before pushing content out on social media… Make sure a licensing expert is on your marketing team; if not, get legal involved before new marketing content is posted online… [and] Don’t assume anything; independently verify that all third part rights are clear”

Read the entire article at lrrmvp.com

Music Licensing Changes via U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office is supporting a change in the way that music licensing is conducted, as stated in a 245 page report on Thursday. If successful, this will mark most radical reform to music licensing in the last 50 years.

Many of today’s music copyright laws were drafted almost 100 years ago, and have seen little revision or update. Consequently, these laws are seen as antiquated and out of date by many. Maria Pallante, the director of the Copyright Office, seems to share this view, commenting that “from a copyright perspective, we are trying to deliver bits and bytes through a Victrola.”

Unsurprisingly, the proposed overhaul of music licensing has not been unanimously accepted, and is anticipated to ignite controversy among some. If implemented, these proposed revisions will have a huge impact on the world of music licensing.

Highlights of the proposed licensing revisions include:

  • Payment of artist royalties for public performances on terrestrial radio.
  • Federalization of pre-1972 sound recordings. Reconsideration of the 75 year old antitrust decrees for ASCAP and BMI.
  • Allowing publishers and other music rights owners the ability withhold their content from streaming services.
  • Changes in what types of uses are subject to blanket licensing, and what are subject to free market negotiation. More transparency for artists with regard to deals between record labels and publishers with services like Spotify

 

See the full article from The Hollywood Reporter here.