A California jury was clear when it said that singer Robin Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams should pay Marvin Gaye’s estate $7.4 million for copying parts of Gaye’s 1977 tune “Got to Give It Up” in their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.”

But determining rip-off from homage and fair use from copyright infringement remains a complicated, and sometimes confusing, task in intellectual property law. Lisa Moore, owner of a boutique entertainment and IP firm, said she advises clients to seek permission from the onset, despite protections carved out in case law. For her, it’s a matter of pragmatism rather than principle.

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