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When a federal jury in March found Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke liable for infringing a Marvin Gaye song to create the 2013 smash hit “Blurred Lines,” many observers wondered how this had happened. Some blamed the vagaries of copyright law for the $5 million judgment, while others turned to what the musicologists had said during the trial. But the musicians themselves certainly played a big role in the outcome.
Now, as the case heads toward an appeal, THR has obtained video of the Williams and Thicke depositions. Below, watch excerpts of Williams’ contentious back-and-forth with Gaye attorney Richard Busch, in which the well-known singer-producer is challenged over whether he can read music and how much of “Blurred Lines” he wrote for Thicke. It’s compelling video.
In the above video, Williams was asked which chords are used in bluegrass songs. He replied, “You should check it out” and “I’m not a teacher.” Busch, the opposing lawyer, continued to probe him on his knowledge of chords and music structure, to which Williams replied, “I’m not here to teach you music.” The singer admitted that he is able to read a musical notation, but is unable to write one. When asked to name two musical notes and their duration, he replied, “I’m not comfortable with this” and “I can’t answer you at this time.”
In Williams’ taped testimony, the music superstar comes off as quite combative. As he gets grilled on whether he can read music, the situation becomes quickly uncomfortable. Busch, lead attorney for the Gayes, keeps pushing, and at one point, he gets Williams to dance around prior media comments about Gaye’s influence in the studio. Williams’ anger is palpable.
When asked to define a chord structure during the deposition, Williams said (in the above video), “I’m not here to teach you music” and stated multiple times in response to questions, “I’m not comfortable.”
A federal judge will soon enter a judgment that orders Williams and Thicke to pay more than $5 million. This will pave the road for a promised appeal. Before the case enters the next phase expected to focus on jury instructions, what musicologists were allowed to say, and the adequacy of the evidence, take a look for the first time at what the jury was allowed to see.
“I did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye,” Williams said during the deposition. The attorney further questioned the singer, “When you were creating ‘Blurred Lines,’ were you trying to pretend that you were Marvin Gaye?” Williams replied: “At that particular time, no. But as I look back, I feel that feeling.”
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