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Robin Thicke Deposition: High, Drunk for 'Blurred Lines' Session

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 16, 2014 11:17 AM

Newly released deposition testimony by singer Robin Thicke in the ongoing lawsuit over his hit song "Blurred Lines" seems to show the singer distancing himself from the writing and recording of the controversial song.

In the deposition, Thicke credits producer Pharrell Williams with having written the majority of the song before Thicke even showed up, contrary to previous public statements by Thicke about the song's origin, reports the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, Thicke explains on the record, "I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio."

Why is the singer now admitting he played a relatively minor role in the authoring of his biggest hit?

Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Thicke's most recent testimony is part of the legal battle regarding the striking similarity of Thicke's "Blurred Lines" to the late singer Marvin Gaye's song "Got to Give It Up."

Following the release of "Blurred Lines," Thicke, Williams and co-writer Clifford "T.I." Harris filed a preemptive lawsuit in an attempt to get a court to say that "Blurred Lines" wasn't infringing on the copyright of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up."

Gaye's children responded with a suit of their own, claiming that "Blurred Lines" contains "blatant copying of a constellation of distinctive and significant compositional elements" from their late father's "Got to Give It Up."

'Innocent' Infringement?

Thicke's testimony may be aimed at trying to place the blame for any infringement solely on the shoulders of Williams. However, as holder of a 20 percent songwriting credit to the song, Thicke may be liable for any possible infringement either way.

Just as being drunk is not a defense to most crimes, being drunk probably wouldn't suffice as a defense to copyright infringement. Intoxication is typically used to show the lack of intent. However, copyright infringement does not require the intent to infringe, merely the infringement itself.

However, being an "innocent" or unintentional infringer may affect the award of damages in an infringement claim. Under the Copyright Act, if "the court finds that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages."

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