11 Mar 2015

Blurred ownership costs $10 million

6:19 pm on 11 March 2015

A jury in the United States has ruled that the writers of one of the best selling singles of all time ripped off another songwriter.

US musician Robin Thicke.

US musician Robin Thicke Photo: AFP

The Los Angeles jury decided that Blurred Lines - by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams - breached the copyright of Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit, Got To Give It Up.

The jury awarded $10 million in damages to the late soul singer's family.

Thicke and Williams denied copying the hit, and their lawyer said the ruling set a "horrible precedent".

Gaye died in April 1984, leaving his children the copyright to his music.

His children - Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III - sued Thicke and Williams in 2013.

Soundtrack of youth

US musician Pharrell Williams

US musician Pharrell Williams Photo: AFP

In court, Williams had told jurors that Gaye's music was part of the soundtrack of his youth but he insisted it was not on his mind when he wrote the song.

However, he recognised a likeness between the songs and agreed he was "channelling ... that late-70s feeling" when he co-wrote the song.

Thicke testified that he had contributed little to the writing of the song.

"While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today," the pair's lawyer Howard E King said. "We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter."

The hit, which earned a Grammy nomination, generated more than $22 million in profits and made nearly $7 million for both stars.

The hit single was been named the UK's most-downloaded song of all time. It was criticised for its explicit lyrics and about 20 university student unions banned the track, saying it promoted "date rape culture", an accusation Thicke consistently denied.