Visiting UALR professor files friend of the court brief in ‘Blurred Lines’ case

Visiting professor Bernard A. Burk filed a friend of the court in the "Blurred Lines" copyright case

A visiting professor at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law has weighed in on the internationally watched “Blurred Lines” case that pits the family of Marvin Gaye against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

Bernard A. Burk co-authored an amicus ​curiae — a friend of the court brief — in the appeal of the copyright infringement case brought by Gaye’s family regarding the 2013 song “Blurred Lines.”

The brief was filed in support of the Gaye family on behalf of a group of eminent musicologists from Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, and elsewhere.​

“It was a joy and an honor to be able to help present the views of such a distinguished group of music scholars in support of one of the greatest American songwriters and performers of the second half of the 20th century,” Burk said.​

In the original lawsuit, the Gaye family won a ​more than $5 million ​verdict when the court found that Thicke, Pharrell, and rapper T.I.’s 2013 “Blurred Lines” infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye’s 1975 hit “Got to Give it Up.” The case is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The issue on appeal ​that the amicus brief addresses concerns two ​experts in musicology who testified at the trial. Thicke​, Pharrell, and others claim the experts’ testimony was ​so wrong ​and inconsistent with copyright law​ that the jury should not have heard it​.

Professor Burk’s co-authored amicus brief supports the testimony and the original verdict.

Gaye, whose songs include “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” produced hits from the 1960s through the early 1980s. He died in 1984.

Billboard named “Blurred Lines” its song of the summer for 2013 after it led the Billboard Hot 100 list for 12 weeks starting in late June of that year.

In a Dec. 28 online article titled “Marvin Gaye’s Family Gets Boost from Songwriters, Musicologists in ‘Blurred Lines’ Appeal,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the latest developments in the lawsuit, including the friend of the court brief co-authored by Burk.

Pictured above: Bernard A. Burk. Contributed photo.

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