Judge: 'Blurred Lines' lawsuit is going to trial

Pharrell Williams, T.I. and Robin Thicke will likely have to defend the originality of "Blurred Lines" at trial.

Story highlights

  • The dispute over Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is heading to trial
  • A judge ruled that there's enough evidence for it to be presented to a jury
  • But jury will have to focus on sheet composition of the songs versus the recordings
Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. have lost the first round of their legal fight over "Blurred Lines," their monster 2013 hit.
The three artists have been in a lengthy standoff with the family of soul legend Marvin Gaye, which has alleged that "Blurred Lines" illegally copies Gaye's 1977 hit "Got To Give It Up," among other complaints.
Thicke, Williams and T.I. -- whose given name is Clifford Harris Jr. -- filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in August 2013 asking a federal judge in California to declare that "Blurred Lines" doesn't infringe on the copyright of "Got to Give It Up."
The Gaye estate followed with a countersuit that accused Thicke of not only ripping off "Got to Give It Up" but infringing on the copyright of Gaye's "After the Dance" and having a "Marvin Gaye fixation."
This tension came to a head on Thursday as U.S. District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt denied Thicke and Williams' request and ruled that the dispute should be aired out at trial.
Though Thicke, Williams and T.I. contended in their suit that "being reminiscent of a 'sound' is not copyright infringement," Thursday's ruling indicates the court believes that's a question for a jury to mull over.
Both sides relied on the examination of musicologists to help make their arguments, but Thursday's ruling noted that the Gaye family has made "a sufficient showing that elements of 'Blurred Lines' may be substantially similar to protected, original elements of 'Got to Give It Up.' "
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a trial is set for February 10.
In a statement, the lawyer for Thicke and Williams said that Thursday's ruling isn't a surprise thanks to the "extraordinary difficulty" of trying to land a win at this stage of the process, "especially where each side offers conflicting opinions from multiple musicologists."
That said, the stars' attorney added he and his clients are "gratified" that, per Thursday's ruling, "the jury will need to decide this case ... limited to what is in the written composition, without being influenced by the sound recordings."
"Blurred Lines" stayed at the top of Billboard's pop chart for a record 16 weeks last year and sold more than 6 million copies, according to court documents.