Marvin Gaye’s family cited a 2019 GQ interview between Pharrell and Rick Rubin in the case.
On February 12th, the long saga of the 2013 Robin Thicke track “Blurred Lines” finally came to an end. In a California court, United States District Court Judge John Kronstadt ruled that Pharrell Williams did not commit perjury during the 2015 court case regarding the song.
In November 2019, Williams spoke about the song’s creation in an interview with Rick Rubin for GQ. In the interview, Pharrell said that the court’s verdict hurt his feelings, as he didn’t “take anything” from Gaye, calling the track a “reverse-engineering” of Gaye’s music, if anything. The family responded with a court filing accusing him of perjury.
“The statements by Williams during the November 2019 interview were cryptic and amenable to multiple interpretations,” Kronstadt wrote. “For example, it is unclear what Williams meant by ‘reverse-engineer[ing].’ Read in context, Williams statement about ‘reverse-engineering’ could be interpreted as a process in which he remembers his feelings when listening to particular music, and then attempts to recreate those feelings in his own works.”
“This is not inconsistent with his deposition testimony,” he continued, “in which he claimed that he realized after creating ‘Blurred Lines’ that the feeling he tried to capture in the song, was one that he associated with Marvin Gaye.”
Thicke, Williams, and T.I. were accused of copyright infringement for lifting elements from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 track “Got to Give it Up.” Previously, the artists were ordered to give up half of the song’s royalties to the Gaye estate and pay a one-time fee of $5.3 million in damages. T.I. was cleared of penalty in 2018.
Eight years after its release, two of the three artists have publicly denounced the song and video. Thicke told the New York Post he’d “lost perspective” on his personal life when making the video. A month before the interview with Rubin, Williams revealed that he’d finally understood the backlash the song initially received.
“I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, ‘Got it. I get it. Cool.’ My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel.