Jury Issues Ruling In Ed Sheeran Copyright Infringement Case

By Sarah Tate

May 4, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

The verdict is in in the copyright infringement case involving Ed Sheeran.

On Thursday (May 4), a New York jury ruled in favor of the British singer-songwriter, saying he didn't steal key components from Marvin Gaye's hit "Let's Get It On" when writing his own song "Thinking Out Loud," per CBS News. The ruling comes after two weeks of evidence presented in trial that included Sheeran giving a courtroom demonstration of how he writes a song.

The lawsuit was brought about by the heirs of songwriter Ed Townsend, who wrote the 1973 hit with Gaye, who said "Thinking Out Loud" had so many "striking similarities" and "overt common elements" that Sheeran copied "Let's Get It On" when writing the track. Townsend's daughter Kathryn Townsend Griffin testified that while the British crooner is "a great artist with a great future," she had to "protect my father's legacy."

The Townsends' attorney Ben Crump pointed out that Sheeran often performs the two songs together during live concerts, calling it a "smoking gun" of proof that he stole ideas from the song.

Sheeran, and ultimately the jury, disagreed, with the "Boat" singer saying he often performs mashups during shows to "spice it up a bit," even demonstrating with a guitar how he does just that. His lawyers argued the reason behind any similarities is that both tracks share versions of similar and "unprotectable" chord progression available to songwriters, the outlet reports.

"When you write songs, somebody comes after you," he said. Throughout the trial, he claimed that the case was a threat to all musicians who create their own music. He has previously called cases like this "damaging to the songwriting industry" and that "there's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music."

This isn't the first time Sheeran has been in court fighting a copyright battle for one of his songs. Last year, a court in England ruled in his favor, claiming that he and his co-writers of 2017's "Shape Of You" didn't plagiarize Sami Chokri's 2015 song "Oh Why," despite alleged similarities.

At the time, Sheeran said he was happy with the outcome of the trial but that he feels like "claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court."

Ed Sheeran
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