The “Blurred Lines” saga has finally come to its legal end, but the story may not be over. On Tuesday night, a federal jury ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams's smash hit had infringed on the copyright of Marvin Gaye's 1977 song “Got to Give It Up,” and subsequently awarded more than $7.3 million to Gaye's family. Aside from the size of the damages awarded — some of the largest ever in a music copyright case — the ruling was surprising for the legal thinking behind it: Rather than an obviously derivative melody, "Blurred Lines" was determined to have stolen a "feel" from Gaye's song. What could conceivably have been called homage was, in this case, illegal.
We spoke with Jeff Peretz, a professor at NYU's Clive Davis School of Music who has often spoken on copyright law, about what precedents the "Blurred Lines" ruling may have set, and what it might mean for musicians moving forward.