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Blurred Lines lawyer argues against the Gaye family’s claim for legal costs

By | Published on Friday 12 February 2016

Blurred Lines

Having been (eventually) awarded $5.3 million in damages and 50% of future publishing royalties as a result of winning the high profile ‘Blurred Lines’ plagiarism battle, the Marvin Gaye estate should shut up and go home happy. Not my words ladies and gentlemen, but the words of lawyer Howard King. Well, my words, his sentiment.

King – the legal rep for ‘Blurred Lines’ creators and, in the eyes of the US courts, song stealers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams – has responded to a claim by the Gaye family for a further $3.5 million in legal fees to be paid by the losing side. He doesn’t think his clients should pay up.

Why? Well, according to The Hollywood Reporter, King said in a legal filing this week: “If ever there was a case where the close nature of the dispute, the novel legal issues, and the important matters at stake merited denial of fees, this is that case. If fees are awarded here, it would send a message to anyone accuse[d] of infringement that, regardless of any legitimate basis to defend or serious questions as to the merits, a loss will necessarily result in an award of fees”.

King has a particular issue with his clients being asked to cover a six-figure fee to the musicologist who spoke up for the Gaye family in the case. She was the expert who insisted that ‘Blurred Lines’ was sufficiently similar to Gaye song ‘Got To Give It Up’ to constitute copyright infringement. But King claims that Judith Finell was the fourth musicologist the Gaye family hired, because the others didn’t agree about just how similar the two songs were.

However, says Gaye family lawyer Richard Busch, commenting on his client’s claim for legal costs to be covered, let us not forget that it was Thicke n Pharrell who first went legal in the ‘Blurred Lines’ song-theft dispute. They sought court clarification that their hit didn’t infringe the copyright in ‘Got To Give It Up’. And in that original legal claim, the popstars demanded that their legal fees be covered.

The Reporter quotes Busch as saying: “They made it a point of asking the court to award them fees if they won, and, as we pointed out in our motion, used the threat of fees proactively. As a result, we believe they really have no right to now argue that it is not fair for fees to be awarded to the Gaye family”.

And so, the most entertaining copyright dispute in recent history continues to go through the motions.