'Blurred Lines' trial: Colorful testimony, big names, serious issue

'Blurred Lines' trial: Colorful testimony, big names, serious issue
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke perform during the Walmart 2014 annual shareholders meeting on June 6. (Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images)

Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday in a colorful courtroom drama that pits some big names in the music industry against the family of the late music legend Marvin Gaye.

Here's a breakdown of the trial and the issues behind it as reported by the Los Angeles Times' Victoria Kim.


Q: What is the trial about?

A: It will decide whether Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" infringed on Gaye's 1977 song "Gotta Give It Up."‎ Thicke, singer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. preemptively sued the Gaye family for a determination that their song was not an infringement, and the Gayes countersued.

Q: What is Gaye's family saying?

Janis Gaye, Gaye's ex-wife, testified that as soon as she heard "Blurred Lines," she noticed similarities and was initially thrilled that the hit would breathe new life into Gaye's classic.

She said she was surprised to learn the songwriters hadn't licensed Gaye's work.

"It's the living legacy Marvin left behind for his children, his family, his fans and the world," she said.‎

Q: Robin Thicke took the stand earlier, and it was colorful. What happened?

Thicke sang, played the piano and even danced a little in his seat during his testimony.

Thicke was primarily backtracking on radio and magazine interviews in which he previously said that he proposed to Williams that they write something like "Gotta Give It Up."

Thicke told the federal jury that he was drunk and high on drugs during those interviews, and that he was trying to take credit for some part of the song that had become the biggest hit of his career even though Williams wrote it on his own.

Q: Producer Pharrell Williams took the stand this week. What did he say?

Williams testified Wednesday that he may have been channeling the "feel" of Marvin Gaye and the late 1970s, but he did not specifically discuss or have the late musician in mind when he wrote "Blurred Lines."

"Feel, but not infringement," Williams said when asked whether he recognized similarities between the songs. "I must've been channeling that feeling, that late-'70s feeling."

Williams acknowledged that he told journalists during media interviews about "Blurred Lines" that he was "trying to pretend" he was Gaye, but he said it was because he realized only in hindsight that he had composed the song in a style similar to the late musician's.