A jury decided Robin Thicke’s smash hit “Blurred Lines” is pretty much the same song as Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” With the decision Gaye’s heirs got a huge win over Thicke and “Blurred Lines” producer Pharrell Williams–to the tune of $7.4 million. (Even though the jury said the copying wasn’t “willfull”!) It’s hardly the first suit of its kind, but “Blurred Lines” made some serious loot and Pharrell, Thicke and company wanted to keep it. So they ignored the option to settle out of court and instead put it in a jury’s hands.
Most artists know better. Last fall British singing sensation Sam Smith settled out of court with Tom Petty after Petty’s lawyers pointed out Smith’s song “Stay With Me” sounded a lot like Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Smith may have been influenced by Petty’s music, but he didn’t subscribe to the senior musician’s advice: he backed down quickly. The move saved Smith some money and grief. Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne got a reasonable 12.5% of the royalities.