A forensic musicologist has heavily criticised the ruling earlier this year against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke which forced them to pay substantial damages over the similarity between ‘Blurred Lines’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’.
In March, a jury ruled in favour of Marvin Gaye’s family, deciding that Williams and Thicke had infringed on the late singer’s composition and resulted in a payment of $7.3 million in damages.
Although Pharrell Williams plans to take the case to appeal, Peter Oxendale, a muscicologist who has worked on a number of high profile cases about similarities between songs, has spoken out against the ruling and the effect it has had on the music industry.
Oxendale told Newsbeat: “The ‘Blurred lines’ outcome was an appalling decision. It was a jury trial in Los Angeles and they can always be difficult because a jury is asked to decide on technical facts… in this case in ‘Blurred Lines’ the verdict of the jury, in my opinion, was wrong on the facts. There’s no science to it. The songs… they have different structures, they have different underlying harmonies, they have different vocal melodies, they have entirely different lyrics.”
He added: “In fact, there are no two consecutive notes in the vocal melodies or even the bass lines that occur in the same place for the same duration. They are, by definition, different songs.”
Despite the fact that copyright laws have not chnaged, as a result of the million-selling single being labelled a copyright infringement, Oxendale has found himself inundated with paranoid songwriters worrying that they may be accused of copying the work of another artist:
“Some new groups may have taken a reference from another track and they come to me and say, ‘Are we too close?’ And I’ll advise if they are [too close] and perhaps suggest some changes. And when they get it right and in a position that I think they’re not infringing copyright, I’ll often write a report.”
The current case against Jay Z and Timbaland over the use of a sample of ‘Khosara Khosara’ by Egyptian artist Baligh Hamdi on the rapper’s 1999 track ‘Big Pimpin” is set to be another landmark ruling.