LOS ANGELES (AP) — Singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lied about how they crafted the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” and should be financially punished for using music by Marvin Gaye, a lawyer for the late singer’s family told a jury Thursday.
An attorney for Williams and Thicke, however, said his clients did nothing wrong in evoking the feeling of Gaye’s music, and determining they improperly copied his work would have a chilling effect on musicians and other artists.
The dueling portrayals of deceit and creative expression emerged during closing arguments in the copyright infringement case filed by Gaye’s children against the contemporary hit-makers.
Lawyer Richard Busch, who represents Gaye’s children, accused Williams and Thicke of repeatedly changing their stories about how they created “Blurred Lines.” He urged the jury to find that the song infringed on the copyright for his 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
Busch told the eight-person panel that they could award millions of dollars to the heirs of the deceased singer.
“When you do something wrong and you lie about it, there are consequences,” Busch said during his closing argument.
Howard King, lead attorney for Williams, Thicke and rapper T.I., told jurors a verdict for the Gaye family would stifle artists and inhibit musicians trying to recreate an era or genre of music. Williams has said that was his intent with “Blurred Lines.”
“This is more important than money,” King said.
“Blurred Lines” was the biggest hit of 2013 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. T.I.’s rap track was added after it was recorded in mid-2012. He did not testify at the trial that started Feb. 24.
The jury began deliberations on Thursday and will resume Friday.
During the trial, each side attacked expert analysis commissioned by the opposition, with Busch arguing that “Blurred Lines” included eight distinct elements copied from Gaye’s song.
“They copied ‘Got to Give It Up,’ ” Busch said of Thicke and Williams, who attended closing arguments. “They took it for themselves.”
King said none of those elements appear in sheet music for the Gaye song that was submitted to get copyright protection.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt ruled before the trial that jurors could only hear Gaye’s song performed as it was reflected in the sheet music, not as the singer recorded it in the 1970s.
Attorneys for Williams and Thicke commissioned a recording based on the sheet music, which was played in its entirety during closing arguments. Then King played “Blurred Lines” as it was heard by listeners two years ago, earning Williams and Thicke more than $5 million apiece.
Thicke bobbed his head and occasionally shimmied in his seat as both songs played.
“If my clients were running this case, I would thank you and sit down,” King told jurors. “These songs aren’t the same.”
Thicke smiled as Busch repeatedly pointed out times that Busch claimed Thicke and Williams had changed their stories about creating “Blurred Lines.”
Both deny using Gaye’s work to create the song, although Williams said Wednesday that he was trying to evoke the feeling of Gaye’s recordings in the late 1970s.
“No one can claim they own the style or the genre of Marvin Gaye,” King said.
“There are no virgin births in music,” he added toward the end of his argument. “Let my clients go forth and continue to make their magic.”
Williams, a seven-time Grammy winner, sat without displaying any emotion throughout Thursday’s proceedings.
Busch said Gaye’s three children filed the lawsuit to protect their father’s legacy and the outcome would hinge on who jurors believe.
“People have to be held responsible for their actions,” Busch said. “Honesty means something. Telling the truth means something.”