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Update: Robin Thicke denies in court copying Marvin Gaye

(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

Robin Thicke told a Los Angeles federal jury Wednesday that he never copied elements of a nearly four-decade-old Motown song during the recording of the megabit “Blurred Lines,” but admitted he was high when he told interviewers a different story when the single was released.

Thicke told jurors that he was telling the truth in a 2014 deposition when he conceded that he lied to Oprah Winfrey and other interviewers about the origin of “Blurred Lines.”

In interviews from 2013, which were presented to the jury, the singer said he had directed “Blurred Lines” co-writer and producer Pharrell Williams to create a song inspired by Marvin Gaye’s 1977 chart-topper “Got to Give It Up.”

On the witness stand, though, Thicke denied ever having such a conversation with Williams in the studio prior to the creation of “Blurred Lines.”

In the deposition taken last April, Thicke said he was “high and drunk every time I did an interview” in 2013 to promote “Blurred Lines.”

He said the reason he falsely told the media that he was the prime mover behind the composition was that, after penning dozens of songs himself, “the biggest hit of my career was written by somebody else and I was jealous and wanted credit.”

Thicke, 37, also admitted telling the media “whatever I need to say to sell records.”

Williams, who is expected to take the stand later in the trial, looked on without expression as Thicke’s deposition was played for the jury.

Asked in the deposition if, in reality, he had anything to do with the creation of “Blurred Lines,” Thicke said “none of it was my idea. Not a single word of it was my idea, nothing.”

The singer told the jury that he “was not present when the song was created,” and by falsely saying that he was involved in its creation, “I was living in revisionist history for my own benefit.”

Thicke was adamant that melodic passages in the two songs have little similarity, but when shown musical notation by Gaye family attorney Richard S. Busch, the singer said the sheet music “looks like algebra to me.”

“They share some of the same notes — and I know that by ear,” Thicke testified, adding that the songs “only share one chord.”

Excerpts from a 2014 sworn deposition of Williams by Busch were shown to the jury, and the singer/producer’s argumentative attitude on the tape contrasted sharply with his easygoing public persona.

Blasting the opposing attorney for asking him “nonsense” and a “myriad of ludicrous questions,” the 10-time Grammy Award winner testily repeated, “I’m not a teacher,” when asked to describe basic elements of musical composition.

Refusing to give a yes/no answer to the question of whether he could read music, Williams answered, “I’m not comfortable” more than a dozen times in the deposition.

“I’m not here to teach you music,” Williams told the Gaye attorney.

But when asked about the alleged similarity between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up,” Williams had an answer.

“Silk and rayon are two different things — they just feel the same,” he said in the deposition.

Gaye’s three children allege in a federal copyright lawsuit that Thicke and Williams plagiarized at least eight key elements of “Got to Give It Up.”

At issue is whether Thicke and Williams lifted the Gaye song’s compositional elements, including the melody line found on the sheet music, rather than the overall sound and atmosphere of the record. The case could potentially be worth millions of dollars to the Gaye clan in damages.

Busch said “Blurred Lines” made more than $40 million from all revenue streams, including $11 million in tour proceeds.

Thicke’s lawyer, Howard E. King, told the eight-person civil jury that although the song was profitable, its earnings were “not anywhere near $42 million.”

King also said that the Gaye family earns about $100,000 a year from “Got to Give It Up” alone.

Writing credits on “Blurred Lines” are shared by Thicke, Williams and rapper T.I., while the production is credited to Williams.

The Gayes’ 2013 lawsuit also accuses Thicke of lifting from their father’s “After the Dance” for the title track of his 2011 album “Love After War.”

“Blurred Lines” sold about 15 million copies worldwide, according to Billboard.

Marvin Gay was shot to death by his father in Los Angeles on April 1, 1984.

Musicologist Judith Finell is expected to testify Thursday when the trial resumes.

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