$10.1 million for Blurred Lines plagiarism: 5 music copyright cases you ought to know

In what might be a milestone ruling for the recording industry, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered on Thursday to pay Marvin Gaye's family more than US$7.3 million (S$10.1 million) for plagiarising a hit by Gaye.

A United States jury found that the two R&B singers, in writing their 2013 hit Blurred Lines, had copied the soul singer's 1977 song Got To Give It Up. The damages award might be one of the highest in a music copyright case, said The New York Times.

Here is a look at five other major cases.

1. Michael Bolton vs The Isley Brothers

In 1994, a jury found that balladeer Bolton's 1991 hit, Love Is A Wonderful Thing, infringed on soul singers The Isley Brothers' 1966 song of the same name, after deciding that the two compositions shared several elements.

Bolton and Sony were ordered to pay US$5.4 million.

Bolton, who testified that he had not heard The Isley Brothers' song, fought the ruling for years. But the case closed in 2001 when the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Bolton's appeal against a court of appeal's decision.

2. Coldplay vs Joe Satriani

In 2008, guitarist Satriani sued rockers Coldplay for taking "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental piece If I Could Fly for their 2008 hit Viva La Vida.

Coldplay rebutted the allegation. The case was later settled out of court.

In 2009, singer Yusuf Islam said Viva La Vida sounded like his 1973 song Foreigner Suite, though he did not sue Coldplay. "I have even copied myself without even knowing I have done it," he told the Daily Express. "I don't want them to think I am angry with them. I'd love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it's okay."

3. George Harrison vs The Chiffons

In one of the most famous copyright infringement cases, the publishers of girl group The Chiffons' 1962 hit He's So Fine sued former Beatle Harrison, claiming his 1970 hit My Sweet Lord plagiarised their song.

The lengthy lawsuit ended in 1976, with Harrison's song found to be an unconscious copy of The Chiffons' song. But by then, The Beatles' former manager Allen Klein had bought the rights to The Chiffons' song. In a complex legal twist, Reuters said, Harrison ended up as the owner of The Chiffons song.

4. The Flaming Lips vs Yusuf Islam

Singer Islam was less sympathetic when he listened to rockers The Flaming Lips' 2002 song Fight Test, The Independent said.

He sued them for plagiarising his 1970 song Father And Son, and the two parties reached a settlement to split the royalties.

5. Sam Smith vs Tom Petty

Another recent dispute over another global hit, newly minted Grammy winner Smith's Stay With Me, ended more pleasantly in January than the case of Blurred Lines.

The dispute with the publishers of rocker Petty's 1989 hit I Won't Back Down over the similarity between the two songs was resolved with Smith's publishers giving Petty and his co-writer Jeff Lynne credit and royalties.

Representatives of Smith, who was born in 1992, said he was not familiar with Petty's song. They said the likeness of the songs was "a complete coincidence".

Petty said the similarity was "a musical accident", adding: "The word 'lawsuit' was never even said and was never my intention."

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