Robin Thicke's Response to Copyright Lawsuit: He Was Too High to Have Written Blurred Lines
Posted on September 15, 2014
A California judge has released transcripts of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the copyright infringement case and they are quite shocking. The children of Marvin Gaye are suing Thicke and Pharrell for plagiarizing Gaye's hit "Got to Give it Up" when they wrote last summer's massive hit "Blurred Lines."
In the depositions, which were obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Thicke admits that despite what he said on Oprah's new show and in numerous magazine interviews, he didn't write "Blurred Lines" -- Pharrell did. Thicke says he just showed up at the studio, high as a kite on alcohol and pain meds and Pharrell had already written most of the song. He just sang it. Thicke says he was jealous that Pharrell wrote such a great song and wanted a piece of the credit, which Pharrell gave him.
Pharrell and Thicke both testified that Thicke was listed as a co-writer to increase sales, which Pharrell says is quite common in the music industry. In his deposition, he says that many people are given a co-songwriting credit that is not accurate. In this case, Pharrell did all the work and by the time Thicke got to the studio, the song was mostly complete. Thicke says that he was drunk or high that entire year. When asked if he was an honest person, Thicke answered, "No. That's why I'm separated." He said he told his wife Paula Patton the truth and "that's why she left me." The lawsuit is about copyright, but the estate's attorneys are trying to paint Thicke and Pharrell as liars, which is irrelevant to the case. If the songs are not the same, the estate loses.
In March of this year, Pharrell gave a wide-ranging interview to XXL magazine. He was asked about the Marvin Gaye estate lawsuit and defended Blurred Lines, saying that you "can't trademark a groove." He noted his utmost respect for Marvin Gaye, but maintained that the lawsuit's premise is invalid. He explained, "If I play a song -- which a lot of my new hip-hop, rap records are -- that's done in 6/8 time signature, Charlie Parker's family is not going to sue me for that." Similarly, he noted that if he did a song with a salsa beat, Rickey Martin's family wasn't going to go after him for copyright infringement.
Pharrell says that although a groove is not proprietary, music is. He says that the sheet music for both songs is online and it's obvious to anyone who knows music that the songs are not the same. He says the percussion is notated totally different. He said just for fun that he was trying to pretend that he was Marvin Gaye doing a bluegrass chord structure with pentatonic harmonies."Blurred Lines" has that bluegrass chord structure, but Gaye's song is full of minor, bluesy chords. They are totally different.
He has a point. When the attorneys in the deposition tried to play a mashup of the two songs, Thicke was horrified at the cacophony produced and said he just couldn't listen to it. The judge refused to release the videos of the depositions, which were pretty heated. At one point the attorneys were hounding Pharrell about whether he can read music (he can), and wanted him to do a sight reading in the middle of a deposition, which is ridiculous. He refused eight times, saying he felt uncomfortable doing it.
The case is set for trial in 2015 and after this release of the deposition transcripts at the request of Gaye's attorneys, settlement seems unlikely at this point. As for Thicke, between this deposition and his public philandering his reputation is in shreds. Pharrell hasn't done anything wrong that we can see. His story is consistent and he believes he will prevail at trial.