Last year, the musicians lost their legal battle against Marvin Gaye‘s family, who claimed the guys committed copyright infringement with their 2013 hit.
The late legend’s estate won millions of dollars after alleging the songsmiths stole their single from Marvin’s Got To Give It Up.
But on Wednesday, the trio officially filed to appeal the verdict! The musicians submitted their opening brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In their legal papers, the performers explained that the verdict, as it stands, could inhibit other artists’ creative processes in the future, saying:
“This outcome created international press coverage and widespread expressions of concern by members of the music community that, if left to stand, the ‘Blurred Lines’ verdict would chill musical creativity and inhibit the process by which later artists draw inspiration from earlier artists to create new popular music.”
They continued to argue the ruling should be overturned, because there were a “cascade of legal errors” that swayed the judge’s verdict last March:
“At summary judgment, the district court entertained expert testimony by musicologists for the Gayes who based their opinions entirely on the sound recording, not the deposit copy. The court correctly filtered out non-deposit-copy and generic musical features from their testimony, but then erroneously failed to compare what remained to ‘Blurred Lines.’ At trial, the district court made things worse. While correctly excluding the ‘Got to Give It Up’ sound recording itself, the court erroneously allowed the Gayes’ experts to testify about the sound recording anyway, including by playing their own musical excerpts based on the sound recording. The court then instructed the jury that it could consider all this testimony in its substantial-similarity analysis, failing to instruct them to consider only the protectable elements of the copyrighted work and indeed pointing them explicitly to elements omitted from the deposit copy.”
The court docs hammered this point home by referencing a similar case regarding Led Zeppelin‘s Stairway to Heaven:
“The importance of instructions that correctly filter out unprotected elements in popular music cases is illustrated by the jury’s non-infringement verdict in the recent case involving Led Zeppelin’s song ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ There, unlike here, the district court identified specific musical elements that were not protected by the plaintiff’s copyright (e.g., ‘descending chromatic scales, arpeggios or short sequences of three notes’), and directed the jury to ‘disregard’ such elements in assessing similarity.”
You can read their entire appeal (below):