Thicke v. Gaye: Will the Jury's Decision Have a Chilling Impact on Creativity?

(1574 Ratings)

Produced on: April 29, 2015

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 62 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

In a follow up to their previous course “Thicke v. Gaye: Musical Copyright Infringement," entertainment law attorney Steven Gordon and copyright law scholar Bob Clarida return to discuss the highly publicized Thicke v. Gaye case.

"Blurred Lines," performed and written by Robin Thicke and Pharrell, sparked a legal battle with Marvin Gaye’s estate about whether the song violated the copyright of Marvin Gaye's “Got To Give it Up.”

Recently, a Los Angeles federal jury found in favor of Gaye’s estate and ordered Thicke and Pharrell to pay approximately $7.4 million to Marvin Gaye’s family. Notably, the jury reached their decision without comparing the finished recordings of the two songs. Instead, the jury was only allowed to compare “Blurred Lines” to the sheet music composition of “Got to Give it Up.” Knowledgeable commentators have opined that based on the sheet music alone, the two songs were not “substantially similar,” and that the verdict sets a dangerous precedent. Thicke and Pharell are appealing the verdict.  

In this course, Steven and Bob explore: 

  • Was the jury’s decision legally correct? 
  • Were the judge’s instructions legally correct? 
  • Were Robin Thicke’s negative statements as a witness a factor in the jury’s decision, and if so, was that legally correct? 
  • How did the jury assess damages and was that legally correct? 
  • What are the issues on appeal? 
  • If upheld, will this decision have a chilling effect on creativity? 

Lawline invites you to join us and these two fine attorneys as we explore these fascinating issues.

Learning Objectives:

I.      Answer, "what constitutes music copyright infringement?" 

II.     Comprehend what constitutes proper jury instructions in a copyright infringement case

III.    Understand the measure of damages in a copyright infringement

IV.    Grasp the bases of an appeal from a jury verdict in a copyright infringement case 

V.     Advise songwriter clients on avoiding lawsuits for copyright infringement if the current decision stands



Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon Law

STEVE GORDON is an entertainment attorney with over 25 years of experience, including ten years as Director of Business Affairs/Video for Sony Music.  His current and recent clients include emerging and major record label artists; managers; music and television producers; entertainment companies such Time Life Films, Shout Factory and Soul Train Holdings; and cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.  He also represents television, film and web based producers and production companies.

Other areas of his practice include serving as an expert witness; counseling producers of and participants in reality TV shows; registering trademarks and copyrights; and supervising copyright infringement and contract litigation.

Steve also operates a music clearance service for producers and distributors of feature films, documentaries, ad campaigns, musical theatre, concert programs, audio compilations, and music based apps and websites.

Steve is the author of The Future of the Music Business (Hal Leonard 4th ed. 2015). The book provides a legal and business roadmap to artists, entrepreneurs and music industry professionals for success in today's music business. Steve updates the book at  His new book, The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter and Producer Should Know, will be published by Hal Leonard this spring but is available for pre-order now at

Also an educator, Steve frequently lectures on entertainment law and music business issues, and is the recipient of two Fulbright scholarships.  As a Fulbright scholar he taught courses on music  business and law at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and Tel Aviv University in Israel.

His CLE video for Lawline, "Thicke v. Gaye: Will the Jury's Decision Have a Chilling Impact on Creativity?" won the "Best Program" award at the most recent ACLEA (the Association for Continuing Legal Education) conference.

Steve is a graduate of New York University School of Law.

Robert Clarida

Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC

ROBERT W. CLARIDA, a partner at the New York firm of Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC,  is widely recognized for his intellectual property expertise, having received professional peer recognition for the field of intellectual property in Chambers USA (2010), "New York Superlawyers" (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), American Lawyer's "Best Lawyers in the U.S."(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and for the field of copyright in Legal 500 (2007).  

He advises clients in a wide range of industries including music, software, film, photography and new media. He has also litigated a number of high-profile copyright matters and argued significant federal appeals in several Circuits. He is admitted to the New York bar, and to the federal bars of the Southern, Eastern, Northern and Western Districts of New York, the Eastern District of Michigan, and to the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Seventh and Ninth Circuits.

Bob speaks and writes frequently on copyright issues, and is the principal author of the annual review of copyright decisions published each year by the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA. He co-authors the regular copyright law column in the New York Law Journal, teaches a seminar on emerging intellectual property issues at Columbia Law School, is a past member of the AIPLA Board of Directors, the past chair of the Copyright and Literary Property Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, a past Trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, and has served as an expert reviewer for the Multistate Bar Exam in the intellectual property area.

He earned his J.D. in 1993 from Columbia University, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, after earning a Ph.D. in music composition from SUNY Stony Brook in 1987, and receiving a Fulbright fellowship to the Musicology Institute of Gothenburg University, Sweden.

Sigalle Barness, Esq. is the Vice President of Content at Lawline and oversees all content and production operations. Specifically, Sigalle researches industry and market trends, forges and cultivates relationships with professionals and recruits expert speakers.

Sigalle also analyzes market trends and applies insights to develop and execute written and video content including online educational programming, email marketing, social media campaigns, press releases, blog articles and large scale live events.

Sigalle graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in English. She received her J.D. in 2010 from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, NY. Sigalle is admitted to practice in both New York and New Jersey. She is also an active ACLEA member, former Co-Chair of the ACLEA Programming SIG from 2013 - 2015 and incoming Co-Chair for the Nationals SIG.

Before joining Lawline in March 2012, Sigalle litigated civil claims in areas such as landlord tenant, breach of contract and tax lien and mortgage foreclosures actions. She also handled transactional matters such as drafting residential and commercial leases, demand letters, client conflict waivers and various other agreements.

Sigalle is an avid lover of music, video games, blogging, asking questions and all things food. She is also fluent in Hebrew and enjoys writing fiction, traveling and scuba diving. Click here to see Sigalle’s online resume.

Follow Sigalle:


Frank Steven T.

Outstanding panel and discussion!

James C.

Steve Gordon and Robert Clarida were both so effective in presenting the legal issues and a thorough review of the evidence in the law suit as a basis for their brilliant analysis of the verdict and its implications. This presentation deserved the CLE Award they received. BRAVO!!! If you have any interest in IP Law, I highly recommend this entertaining and informative program.

Douglas B.

Fascinating and informative.

Ashley Renee E.

Great course

Sarah G.

This was a good one. Better than most.

Michelle M.

Really enjoyed the lively debate and presentation of various interpretations of copyright policies!

Warren M.

The back-and-forth was entertaining and interesting! Appreciate the music clips!

Douglas C.

Great lawyers, insightful dialogue between them.

Howard P.

Very interesting and informative lecture

Joshua H.

Great course and knowledgeable instructors!

John M.

entertaining presentation

Arnold B.

Great class. Both u guy were great!

Deidre M.

Very informative and entertaining. Well done!

Kathryn S.

Very informative and really hit on the nuances inherent in this area of the law.

Andrew W.

Great discussion. Being an entertainment lawyer and in house counsel at major record companies, love the subject matter

Lawrence R. L.

Great program! Very interesting as well as entertaining.

Rebecca S.

I loved the interaction between the two attorneys. This was a fascinating topic, made better by the knowledge of the instructors and their respectful debate.

Willie F.

This was a good one!

Justin C. R.

Loved the back and forth at the end - an actual disagreement. Excellent!

Janet S.

Very interesting.

Georgian P.

Great program! Very unique and interesting!

Scott C.

very entertaining

carol b.

Interesting, entertaining and inspiring!

Ron V.

Interesting topic -- I was always curious how the music industry protected its intellectual property.

David W.

I really enjoyed the discussons. They did a great job

Stephen R.

Excellent back and forth

Brenda S.

As a musician and a lawyer, I absolutely LOVED this presentation! Please persuade this team to collaborate more.

Anthony V.

Very interesting discussion about copyright and music and the weaknesses of this type of case going to trial.

Richard D.

That was fun, informative, interesting, and entertaining. These guys know their stuff and they did a great job articulating the concepts.

Julia G.

One of the best CLE presentations I have ever listened to! Very interesting to everybody regardless of their field of practice. The presenters were great! I learned something and was also entertained!

Brian W.


Julie H.

Very thought provoking discussion, don't know how I would have ruled as a juror

Michael H.


Rich W.

No pun intended, very entertaining. I loved the fact that the presenters didn't agree on everything. It made for interesting dialogue.

Randi M.

Great one

John S.

Although my legal interests do not touch upon copyright law, this was one of the best courses I have taken.

Jane J.

Fun, interesting, well done! I liked the friendly way the two of you debated the issues.

Weslynn W.

Excellent program. Loved the demos and discussion by the 2 panelists. Would love to see more from them.

Steven L.

This has to be one of the best classes on LawLine. We need more like it. It makes you think and it is entertaining as well.

Erica R.


Kelly M.

These guys were great!!

Christina Renee B.

Highly entertaining and interesting

Nicole S.

Excellent and very entertaining, lively speakers

Balon B.

Excellent presentation.

Kara S.

This was really interesting!

Tracie R.

This is probably the best CLE I've ever completed. I like the panel format and love that Clarida is a musicologist. Not only was the legal material interesting, but Clarida's musical expertise made the session enjoyable. The banter made it fun!

Jason H.

very entertaining. first time iv been excited to rate any cle

Lona D.


Amy B.

Great presentation. Thank you!


Excellent presentation. The fact the 2 presenters did not agree resulted in a very interesting discussion.

Roscoe H.

This was eXcellent! Informative and quite entertaining!!

John K.

This was a great presentation, as the differing opinions of the two speakers made for a great debate regarding the relevant legal issues. Well done.

James F.

Great program, very engaging yet super substantive. Interesting!

Deborah S.

This course was absolutely great!

Jay M.

Best copyright seminar I've seen.

Rhonda D.

This was a very enjoyable and informative course.

Rosalie W.

Very informative.

Zachary M.

Ultimate CLE compliment: Too short! Wish all debate could be so civil and constructive. Will follow for the appellate decision. Hate to be rooting for Thicke against Gaye, but the purported similarity isn't exactly "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine" is it?

Carole D.

Very interesting!

Ra'Shaun K.

Great lecture


I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction of these two and their joint presentation

Michael B.

Great format! You should have more presentations that are a dialogue and debate between two or more experts like this. Really informative to hear all possible interpretations of the issue.

Jesse W.

Amazing! These two were great!

Alan M. H.

These guys are great! Like Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

Steven W.

Really interesting and insightful

Pehr J.

This was excellent! CLE that is at the same time entertaining as educational is so much better than dry programs that are so much the norm.

Lorenzo L.

Delightful give and take between the two instructors made this presentation must more interesting than the usual Jawline course. Very enjoyable!

Andrew B.

Good program!

Donn H.

excellent presentation!

Julie A. B.

Engaging and interesting autopsy of the Thicke v. Gaye decision. Appreciated the conversational style employed by talented and knowledgeable speakers. Valued the music excerpts that punctuated the discussion. Meticulous education in musicology delivered in understandable lay language.

Derek C.

"the written materials were substantive" doesn't quite cover it for this program. The presenters also provided audio content that was extremely helpful. So all of the material they provided, written or not, was substantive.

adam g.

this one had a panel. great discussion and debate and less of a lecture.

John G.

This was one of the best lawline courses I've taken.

Barbara C.

The presenters were excellent and played off of each other so well. An area of expertise in which I have none.

Ebone L.

This was a highly informative course!

omar e.

Very interesting and lively discussion.

Suzanne K.

I really enjoyed this program. I liked that the presenters had opposing viewpoints and also talked extensively about the real-world implications of this decision.

Stacey T.

Just great.

William G.

This is an excellent primer on copyright law. Robert Clarida is one of the best in the profession.

Ira K.


Maura K.

This was great. Current and relevant!!!

Kelvin B.

Excellent and totally informative. I enjoyed the dialogue between the two presenters and also the live music examples.

Scott K.

I enjoyed the debate at the end of this lecture. It made the topic more engaging.

Matthew D.

This was a really interesting discussion of a topic that could have been quite dry.

Jeffrey H.

Terrific presentation. Really enjoyed the legal and substantive music aspects of the presentation.

Rochelle L.

Loved the lively debate and points of view.

Cassandra S.

Very interesting and well done!

Thomas N.

Excellent presentation. I thought it would be boring but Messrs. Clarida and Gordon had good chemistry. Enjoyed the dialogue between the two and the "talk show" format. When possible the lectures should be styled similar to this one . Keep up the good work gentlemen!

hewson c.

most entertaining CLE I have watched in quite some time!

Eugenia B.

Very interesting presentation with knowledgeable speakers.

Alan L.

Great when they debate

Robert H.

Liked the format.

Douglas S.

Steve Gordon & Robert Clarita are Lawyers that both argue persuasively, well done,

Chia-Lin S.

Took the extra step for a musicologist view with the piano exsmple. Well done

Robert F.

These two should take their act on the road (as long as it's not infringing).

Patricia C.

really interesting and well done, presenting different points of view

Francis Gerard H.

Very interesting!

Glenn M.

Excellent presentation!

Diana L.

Great debates among the presenters.

Perry L.

This was an excellent, high level discussion of an important subject.

Rhonda E. T.

Fun lecture!

Susan M. B.

Fun and interesting. Enjoyed the "debating" between the speakers.

Tammy W.

I thought the subject matter and the speakers were excellent. Truly one of the more interesting and enjoyable CLEs. I would hire those attorneys for sure.

Kenneth G.

entertaining and informative, outstandint

Samuel L.

Very informative and entertaining

John G.

This is the best in this series of courses!

Keith C.


Brittin F.

Excellent follow-up to the previous course.

Teveia B.

I loved this course. Very entertaining and informative. Thank you.

Mala K.

I enjoyed the conversational structure of this CLE, as opposed to a person reading a script.

Chris P.

Fun course...very interesting!

Clifford H.

The discussion of musicology and how it applied in this case was particularly interesting and helpful.

Francesca F.

Wonderful seminar.! The analysis was top notch and I loved the gentle sparring between the attorneys.

Stephen C.

Both speakers were top rate

Richard C.

Great format, using two experts who disagree. That contributed a LOT to the learning experience.

David B.

Enjoyed the lively discourse between the presenters - rare for these courses

Malisa G.

Excellent program!

Jeremy F.

fascinating subject matter, discussed in an informative manner; one of the best programs that I've heard

Gary M.

entertaining and informative back and forth between speakers

Marvin S. L.

I found the topic extremely interesting. I enjoyed the exchanges and point of views of this decision set forth by both moderators.

Haseeb Q.

Best breakdown of this breaking legal case, and the legal standards used in all aspects of this case. Excellent excellent analysis.

Kerry K.

These guys make a great team, and should have a television show together!! Enjoyed it!!

Allen B.

Interesting deep dive on a single case.

Leslie W.

enjoyed listening to the competing viewpoints of these two gentlemen.

Vincent P.


Sheila D.

Excellent presentation that benefited from the informal format and the exchange of ideas between the two participants.

Lawrence G.

Highly entertaining and informative. The best course I've taken so far.

Hilary R.

very entertaining!

Kimmo M.

Excellent dialogue format, great speakers

Thomas B.

the Q&A interview structure of the recording was very effective, as well a s the discussion and banter on whether the decision would have a chilling effect on creativity.

Brian A.

Fascinating, but confusing. It's a harder topic than I would have guessed. I am sitting here going, "wow. More to entertainment law than I thought." I never want to practice in this area, but I appreciate the speakers. Nice job.

Michael M.

Very informative- I love these guys.

Ed S.

Really enjoyed the format. Solid back and forth on the issues.

Carla R.

Very interesting to hear the debriefing of the trial.

Mark H.

The dynamic of the two lecturers was very good and interesting. I like the combination of an expert and a really smart guy that knows less about the topic and asks questions.

Elizabeth B.

Very interesting program!

peggy g.

demonstration of the music with accompanying sheet music was very helpful and effective.

Richard R.

Arguably, the best CLE I have ever attended. Everything was interesting, educational and, of course, entertaining. Placing pop culture at the fore of an IP CLE is a great way to get folks like me more engaged in IP issues. Thanks.

Carolyne A.

This was one of the best seminars I have ever taken for a CLE course. Sure, it helps that it's my practice area, but honestly anyone would find this seminar informative and entertaining. I love how they joked at the end that they were like The McLaughlin


This is the best course I have seen so far! Excellent in all respects.

Mike P.

Robert Clarida's expertise as a expert musicologist was highly evident, beneficial and appreciated. His use of audio demonstrations made the instruction extremely interesting and entertaining.

Michelle S.

Excellent! Lively debate!

Michelle K.

very interesting!

Suzanne R.

very interesting!

Laura N.

Very interesting & enjoyable.

Christopher S.

Interesting, timely and informative.

Sharron N.

Good one

Patricia F.

Highly interesting!

Brian N.

Very fun class, did not realize how important the written score was to the case.

Jonathan E.

This was very instructive and entertaining.

Allyson M.

Awesome and entertaining lecture.

John L.

Good job!

Robert Q.

Great discussion. Learned a lot.

Julia L.

Would like follow up course.

Neil O.

Great course with an especially-interesting, candid discussion of policy issues facing copyright law in an age of sampling and highly similar Top-40 hits.

Eileen N.

Loved that they didn't agree all the time!

Mark W.

Excellent Exchange

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