This week, a US District judge reduced the $7.4 million award (PDF) that a jury granted to Marvin Gaye’s family in March to $5.3 million. The Gaye family had accused pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, as well as rapper T.I., of copyright infringement with their 2013 song “Blurred Lines,” which the Gaye family said sounded too much like Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up.”
The jury’s March verdict awarded $4 million to the Gaye family in damages as well as a calculation of the profits that Williams and Thicke made from the song—the jury decided that this amounted to $1,610,455.31 from Williams and $1,768,191.88 from Thicke.
This week, Judge Kronstadt ruled that Williams’ share of the damages was unfair, however, because Williams’ share of the producer royalties from “Blurred Lines” was only $860,333 (though Williams cleared upward of $4.2 million in publishing revenue from the song). “This award was excessive,” the judge wrote. “It reflects a profits-to-damages ratio of 187 percent, which is approximately 4.7 times greater than the 40 percent ratio that was used in the calculation of damages as to Thicke’s profits.”
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