R. Kelly and film composer Hans Zimmer have added their names to a letter urging lawmakers to reverse the copyright infringement verdict that could still cost Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams millions.
The duo and rapper T.I. were found guilty of copying Marvin Gaye's Got to Give it Up when they were recording international smash hit Blurred Lines, and the late soul legend's family was awarded a $5.3 million final judgment in court last year (15).
Thicke and Pharrell have now started their appeal process and as part of their efforts, they have collected signatures from a host of top musical names, hoping the concerns of their peers will sway the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges overseeing the case.
The filed amicus brief, which has also been signed by stars like Linkin Park, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fall Out Boy, Jennifer Hudson, and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, suggests that if the 2015 decision is allowed to stand it "is very dangerous to the music community".
It reads: "The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.
"All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line is."
The brief continues: "One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassie (sic), or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences."
Meanwhile, 10 top musicologists have filed their own amicus brief, echoing the sentiment that the verdict could curtail creativity in popular music.