Ed Sheeran has been accused of copying Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic “Let’s Get it On” in his hit song “Thinking Out Loud”. The lawsuit was filed by the heirs of Ed Townsend, the co-writer of “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye. The plaintiffs first filed the civil suit in 2017 and are being represented by a legal team including civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.
Townsend’s estate alleges that Sheeran, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Publishing borrowed from the soul classic “Let’s Get it On” in the creation of “Thinking Out Loud,” violating federal copyright law. The plaintiffs argue that “The defendants copied the heart of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking,’” and that “The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions in ‘Thinking’ are not the product of independent creation.”
Ed Sheeran’s Defense
Ed Sheeran, 32, took the stand on Tuesday during the opening arguments in federal court in Manhattan. Sheeran denied the allegations and defended his art before the court, telling jurors that he composed “Thinking Out Loud” independently with British songwriter Amy Wadge, who was not named in the lawsuit.
Sheeran also said that the 2014 concert mash-up only happened because most pop songs use a handful of similar chords. Sheeran argued that “It is my belief that most pop songs are built on building blocks that have been freely available for hundreds of years.”
If the jury finds the British singer-songwriter liable for copyright infringement, the trial will enter a second phase to determine how much he will pay in damages. Sheeran could testify once more during the trial. Wadge, the “Thinking Out Loud” co-writer, is also planning to take the stand during the trial.
This isn’t the first time Sheeran has found himself in the crosshairs of a copyright infringement suit. Last April, Sheeran took the stand involving another one of his hits, 2017’s “Shape of You”. A London judge in that case ruled in favor of Sheeran and awarded him more than $1.1 million in legal fees. Despite the allegations, Sheeran has maintained his innocence and defended his art as an independent creation.
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