The Gaye family was handicapped by U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt’s decision to preclude use at trial of the original sound recording of “Got to Give It Up” because Gaye’s copyrights on the song were limited to the sheet music compositions. Before the trial began, Busch wondered whether his side would get a fair trial, and while the judge eventually allowed a stripped-down version of Gaye’s song to be played for the jury’s ears, the attorney was disturbed by comments made by the Thicke side that he argued had “poisoned” the trial. The judge dismissed those concerns. Any lingering unhappiness over the judge’s decision leading to the jury’s verdict will likely be taken up on appeal.
To demonstrate copyright infringement, Busch instead leaned on the musicologists who testified to similarities in signature phrase, hook, keyboard-bass interplay, lyrics and theme of the songs. Although “Blurred Lines” was the headliner, the Gaye family also attempted to prove that Thicke’s “Love After War” was an infringement of Gaye’s “After the Dance.”
Then, there was the rare peek at “Blurred Lines’ ” financial success as the Gaye family made their case for damages. Busch had accounting experts speak about all the money made — including $5.6 million in profits to Thicke, $5.2 million to Williams, $700,000 to T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits to record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. The Gayes also wanted some of the $11 million in touring income attributable to “Blurred Lines’ ” success as well as money for overhead costs and statutory damages for willful infringement.