Pharrell Williams Defends GQ Interview in Court

Pharrell Williams - 2017 Charlottesville Concert - Getty - H 2018
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Much has been written about the win by the Marvin Gaye family in the "Blurred Lines" copyright case, and whether the result protects original authorship or rather chills creative freedom. Thanks to Pharrell Williams' recent comments about his own process for creating music and the Marvin Gaye family's subsequent "perjury" charge, the once seemingly finished lawsuit now explores what was said inside and outside a courtroom.

The Marvin Gaye family is shooting to recover millions of dollars in attorney fees spent in the old case upon Williams telling Rick Rubin during a GQ interview that he "reverse engineers" the feeling he gets from listening to music and that he "did that in ‘Blurred Lines’ and got myself in trouble."

Is that inconsistent with what he once testified under oath? 

No, argues Williams' attorneys in a court brief filed Friday.

"In his interview, Williams said that in his creative process, he often 'reverse engineers' a song to 'figure out where the emotional mechanism is in there' — but he never said that he 'reverse engineered' 'Got to Give it Up' to compose 'Blurred Lines,' or that he entered the studio with the intent to make a song that sounds or feels like Marvin Gaye," states the brief. "While Williams did say that the 'feeling' of 'Blurred Lines' turned out to be so reminiscent of 'Got to Give it Up' that some listeners felt the songs sounded the same, he also specifically stated, as he did at trial, that he had no intent to copy the elements — melody, chords, and lyrics — of the song. The factual predicate for the Gayes’ motion therefore fails because his recent interview does not show perjury."

In an effort to avoid repercussions, Williams is doing more than inferring any ambiguity in his statement in his favor and denying any intent to mislead. The opposition brief tells a judge that the Gayes' demand to reconsider attorney fees in light of a "fraud on the court" comes too late and is "actually old news" given that his prior press statements were made a "focal point" at trial.

Here's the entire opposition memorandum.