Near the end of the trial, the parties were in dispute over the jury verdict form and how to deal with the various forms of liability including direct, contributory and vicarious infringement. Ultimately, the jury seemed to take Gaye's ownership of sheet music compositions seriously and punish the songwriters, while allowing the record distributors to avoid sharing the burden of paying damages. The side controversy over liability has spilled over into post-trial proceedings.
The Gayes, represented by Richard Busch, contends that there's no separating out those who, "by virtue of their participation in the creation, manufacture and distribution" of the Williams/Thicke song, infringed the Gaye song, too. In its latest motion, the Gaye family quotes a statement by U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt that appears in agreement with this reasoning: "If the jury finds there's infringement and if Universal distributed the recording, then according to what I heard [a lawyer for team Williams] say, they would be liable."
The issue is important not only because it might represent more money for Gaye's side, but also because it could influence the judge's decision about whether to order an injunction pertaining to further distribution of "Blurred Lines."
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In the aftermath of the jury's verdict, Pharrell Williams' lawyer Howard King expressed confidence that an injunction wouldn't be granted precisely because of the fact that the jury didn't hold the record companies liable.
"Some creative gymnastics will be required to justify any injunction against the owner and distributor of the song recording after they have been adjudicated not to be infringers," he wrote in a column.
Now, the other side wants the jury's verdict corrected as "a matter of law," further pushing in a separate motion for an injunction and impoundment of all copies of "Blurred Lines."
As drastic as that sounds, the Gayes states in its court papers that it does not intend to "interminably cease the exploitation of 'Blurred Lines,' but instead seek this injunction and impoundment in order to negotiate an agreement with Plaintiffs and Counter-Defendants for proper attribution of Marvin Gaye as a writer of 'Blurred Lines' and for the use of 'Got to Give it Up' in the infringing work, so that the Gayes may share in the copyright and all future proceeds of 'Blurred Lines,' as is their right."
King wasn't immediately available for comment, but in addition to an appeal, it's probable that he will file his own papers either looking to modify the jury's verdict or seek declaratory relief that "Blurred Lines" is not an infringement in spite of what the jury decided two weeks ago.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.