7:38am PT by Eriq Gardner
Marvin Gaye Family Wants 'Blurred Lines' Judge to Punish Record Labels, T.I.
If a jury's decision to award $7.4 million in profits and damages to Marvin Gaye's family represents the "bottom of the sixth" as an attorney for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke says, the game continued on Tuesday night with new motions for the "Blurred Lines" judge to consider.
The Gaye family is now pushing for the judge to "correct" the jury's verdict to add Universal Music, Interscope Records and Star Trak Entertainment to the list of infringers. Additionally, the judge is also being asked to set aside the jury's decision to give Clifford Harris, Jr. (aka T.I.) a pass and hold him accountable too.
Near the end of the trial, the parties were in dispute over the jury verdict form and how to deal with the various forms of liability including direct, contributory and vicarious infringement. Ultimately, the jury seemed to take Gaye's ownership of sheet music compositions seriously and punish the songwriters, while allowing the record distributors to avoid sharing the burden of paying damages. The side controversy over liability has spilled over into post-trial proceedings.
The Gayes, represented by Richard Busch, contends that there's no separating out those who, "by virtue of their participation in the creation, manufacture and distribution" of the Williams/Thicke song, infringed the Gaye song, too. In its latest motion, the Gaye family quotes a statement by U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt that appears in agreement with this reasoning: "[I]f the jury finds there’s infringement and if Universal distributed the recording, then according to what I heard [a lawyer for team Williams] say, they would be liable.”
The issue is important not only because it might represent more money for Gaye's side, but also because it could influence the judge's decision about whether to order an injunction pertaining to further distribution of "Blurred Lines."
In the aftermath of the jury's verdict, Pharrell Williams' lawyer Howard King expressed confidence that an injunction wouldn't be granted precisely because of the fact that the jury didn't hold the record companies liable.
"Some creative gymnastics will be required to justify any injunction against the owner and distributor of the song recording after they have been adjudicated not to be infringers," he wrote in a column.
Now, the other side wants the jury's verdict corrected as "a matter of law," further pushing in a separate motion for an injunction and impoundment of all copies of "Blurred Lines."
As drastic as that sounds, the Gayes states in its court papers that it does not intend to "interminably cease the exploitation of 'Blurred Lines,' but instead seek this injunction and impoundment in order to negotiate an agreement with Plaintiffs and Counter-Defendants for proper attribution of Marvin Gaye as a writer of 'Blurred Lines' and for the use of 'Got to Give it Up' in the infringing work, so that the Gayes may share in the copyright and all future proceeds of 'Blurred Lines,' as is their right."
Update March 20: The "Blurred Lines parties have responded to the motion to "correct" the verdict, arguing that it's procedurally improper. Howard King, attorney for Pharrell Williams, writes that there's no basis to do such a thing, that the Gayes are attempting to get past proper protocol so as to have the judge enter an injunction despite the finding that the jury found no liability on Universal Music's part and regardless of the fact that the Gayes hadn't proposed any terms for the proposed injunction.
He adds, "The jury verdict against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke is an abject miscarriage of justice, unsupported by the evidence, and contrary to law. The parties will brief their respective views on the form of judgment, a new trial, JMOL [judgment as a matter of law], and other issues arising out of the fundamentally flawed trial and verdict in the coming months."