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Universal Music's Right to Jury Trial infringed in 'Blurred Lines' Lawsuit?

Did you think the Blurred Lines copyright infringement case was over? Guess again.

Back in March, a jury ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were guilty of copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye's song Got to Give it Up. The jury awarded Gaye's family a $7.3 million verdict. However, the jury also found that rapper T.I., who appeared in the song, Universal Music, Interscope Records, and Star Trak Entertainment (Universal and friends) not guilty.

The Gaye family now wants a judge to declare that Universal and friends are guilty. Can the judge do that?

Gaye Family's Arguments

Despite the jury's ruling that only Thicke and Williams were guilty, the Gaye family wants a judge to extend liability to everybody who participated "in the creation, manufacture and distribution" of the song Blurred Lines.

The family argues that members in a distribution chain of a work are as liable for infringement as the parties responsible for making the derivative work (meaning the song that infringed on the copyright of another song).

The family claims that the court has already recognized that if Thicke and Williams were found liable, then Universal and friends would be liable too. Since the jury did find Thicke and Williams liable, the Gaye family now wants the judge to declare Universal and friends liable as well.

Universal's Argument

Obviously, Universal isn't happy about the Gaye family's requests.

Universal and friends argues that a jury has already found them not liable of copyright infringement. They argue that a declaration of liability from the judge would infringe their right to a jury trial as promised by the Seventh Amendment. Such a declaration would be opposite of what the jury has already decided on the exact same issue.

Interestingly, Universal does admit that the jury's verdict was legally inconsistent when it found Thicke and Williams liable but Universal and friends not liable. However, they contend that such inconsistency does not justify a judge overruling a jury's decision.

Both sides have only made their arguments to the court in briefs so far. We will eagerly await the judge's decision in this odd issue.

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