Regrettable denouement in the “Blurred Lines” dispute

¶ On July 11, 2018 the Ninth Circuit declined the petition of Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for a rehearing before the entire Court, of their appeal to overturn the District Court’s judgment upholding a jury verdict finding them liable for copyright infringement in the “Blurred Lines” dispute. Thicke, et al. did not pursue this appeal further, realizing the extravagancy of Supreme Court review of this ill-obtained outcome. This dispute has generated opprobrium both for its potential chilling effect on creators and performers of popular music, and for its evidence of abuse of the jury system by litigants and their contingency-fee attorneys in shakedowns of successful popular musicians. Documentation for this case: Pharrell Williams v. Bridgeport Music.

As predicted by 9th Circuit Judge Nguyen in her dissent in the “Blurred Lines” appeal, the outcome of that case has fostered the pursuit of similar opportunistic claims, like Skidmore’s and those recently lodged against Ed Sheerhan. One claim against Sheerhan involves Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On,” which was also at issue in “Blurred Lines”. The U.S. District Court in New York handling that case has postponed the trial until the 9th Circuit issues a ruling in the Skidmore/Zeppelin dispute. One can only hope Judge Nguyen successfully convinces her colleagues of the mischief and uncertainty resulting from the “Blurred Lines” opinion, and the importance of dissuading fatuous allegations of music copyright infringement that inhibit creativity and make a laughingstock of the American jury system.