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Blurred Lines judge erring against awarding Gaye family legal costs

By | Published on Tuesday 15 March 2016

Blurred Lines

Last month legal reps for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke told the US courts that Marvin Gaye’s family should take the $5.3 million they won in the headline-grabbing ‘Blurred Lines’ copyright case last year, bank the royalty cheques that will continue to come in now they own 50% of the song’s copyright, count their many blessings, and then royally fuck off.

OK, I’m paraphrasing ever so slightly for comedy effect. Did it work? Depends if you find “fuck off” in the middle of a report on copyright litigation amusing, I suppose. Though judges generally don’t like it when they find “fuck off” in the middle of court filings on copyright litigation. Which is why you pay those lawyers all that money I guess. To think of judicially acceptable ways to say “fuck off”. Which is exactly what legal reps for Williams and Thicke did last month. And it worked. The judge is now erring towards the “fuck off”.

This all relates to the previously reported claim for $3.5 million in legal costs filed by the Gaye family and their lawyers after winning the ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism case. Their chief attorney, Richard Busch, says that the Gaye family’s successful litigation against Williams and Thicke for ripping off Marvin Gaye track ‘Got To Give It Up’ on ‘Blurred Lines’ “encourages the meritorious prosecution of copyright claims”. But, he adds, if the ripped off are forced to pay their legal costs out of any winnings, that will stop said people from taking action, even if their copyright claim has a whole mountain of merit attached to it.

Perhaps more convincingly, Busch also points out that in this case Williams and Thicke went legal first, in bid to pre-empt any copyright claim against their hit, and in their original litigation they demanded the other side cover their legal costs. So, it was the terrible twosome who first put the prospect of the victor’s costs being covered on the table, so they can hardly complain now. Or, in the words of Busch himself, according to The Hollywood Reporter: “They gambled and they lost and they should pay the consequences for doing so”.

However, the twosome’s own legal rep has been fighting Busch’s bid for another three and half million of his clients’ dosh. Howard King says that, actually, awarding legal costs in a case like this would set the dangerous precedent. Because the case “demarcated the boundaries of copyright law”. And – look at this – the costs the Gayes want covering include a six figure fee for the one musicologist they could find who’d testify that the late soul star’s family had a case. I mean, fuck off! So, yeah, they should fuck off. I’m paraphrasing again. Slightly.

“The fuck off option is looking appealing”, judge John A Kronstadt didn’t say yesterday. But he did say that he’s “not persuaded there should be an award of fees”. Which sounds like a win for King and his clients. The judge’s final ruling on the matter, though, is still pending, and will arrive in writing. Because it’s much more judicial to write the words “fuck off” than say it in court.