For the first time since being hit with a $7.3 million verdict in the "Blurred Lines" trial, Pharrell Williams has opened up about his thoughts regarding the court's decision to award the Marvin Gaye estate for similarities based on inspiration and not replication.
"The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else," Williams told The Financial Times. "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."
"Everything that's around you in a room was inspired by something or someone," Williams added. "If you kill that, there's no creativity." In The Financial Times' story, which looks at the impact of the "Blurred Lines" on the entertainment industry as a whole, producer Harvey Weinstein argues that, in today's climate, Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein – two artists directly inspired by pop culture – would not be able to create without fear of legal ramifications.
Following the verdict, an attorney for Pharrell and Robin Thicke told Rolling Stone, "They're firm, rock solid, in the conclusion that they wrote this song independently from the heart and soul with no input from anyone, Marvin Gaye or anyone else. They sleep well knowing they didn't copy the song."
In an open letter "from the children of Marvin Gaye," the singer's family says that Gaye would have supported their decision to seek justice in the "Blurred Lines" trial. "If [Gaye] were alive today, we feel he would embrace the technology available to artists and the diverse music choices and spaces accessible to fans who can stream a song at a moment's notice," the Gaye children wrote. "But we also know he would be vigilant about safeguarding the artist's rights. He also gave credit where credit is due."
Earlier this week, the Gaye family officially filed an injunction preventing the sale of "Blurred Lines." "We'll be asking the court to enter an injunction prohibiting the further sale and distribution of 'Blurred Lines' unless and until we can reach an agreement with those guys on the other side about how future monies that are received will be shared," Gaye family attorney Richard Busch told Rolling Stone last week.
The Gaye family lost a similar "Blurred Lines" trial against Universal, the song's owner and distributor, creating an odd situation where one jury found that "Blurred Lines" infringed on Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up," resulting in a $7.3 million verdict, while another jury decided that no infringement took place. This subsequently prevented the Gaye family from earning future royalties through Universal and necessitated an injunction to attempt to come to a settlement.
Despite the importance of the "Blurred Lines" case industry-wide and the apparent lack of a firm decision between juries, an appeal by Thicke and Williams could just as easily end up reversing the $7.3 million judgment and restoring the creative balance. However, Pharrell tells The Financial Times there are no definitive plans to appeal at this time. "We're working out our next steps right now," Williams said.