English artist Ed Sheeran has won a copyright lawsuit about his famous song “Thinking Out Loud.” The case started in 2018 and claimed Sheeran copied parts of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit “Let’s Get It On.”
After a long legal fight, a judge decided the songs weren’t similar enough for copyright issues. This is a significant victory for Sheeran, who always said he didn’t copy the music.
In The Thinking Out Loud Case, Ed Sheeran Wins
In a landmark decision, a United States court has recently ruled that award-winning British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran did not plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s iconic hit song “Let’s Get It On” when creating his 2014 global hit “Thinking Out Loud.” The lawsuit, which was filed by the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer in 2016, alleged that Sheeran, alongside Warner Music Group and Sony Music Publishing, had committed copyright infringement and therefore owed them financial compensation.
During the trial at Manhattan federal court, Sheeran staunchly denied the allegations, even going as far as to state that he would retire from his music career if found guilty. Speaking to reporters after the verdict, the relieved singer expressed his delight at the ruling and hugged his team. However, he further said frustration at the fact that “unfounded claims like this are even allowed to reach court,” adding that a loss would have threatened the artistic freedom of fellow songwriters.
A musicologist representing Sheeran’s defense argued that the contested four-chord sequence had been used in numerous compositions before Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” was released in 1973. The plaintiffs alleged that Sheeran had replicated harmonic progression, melodic and rhythmic components, and other song elements.
In response to the verdict, Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend, levied accusations of copyright infringement at Sheeran. However, she offered no further comment and merely stated, “God is good all the time, all the time God is good,” before swiftly walking away from reporters with what appeared to be a cigarillo.
Thinking Out Loud Was Performed By Sheeran During The Civil Trial
Ed Sheeran played a few “Thinking Out Loud” notes on his guitar at a recent civil trial. The singer-songwriter testified that he co-wrote the hit song with Amy Wadge in his hometown in England, drawing inspiration from his grandparents and a budding romance.
However, the trial wasn’t solely about Sheeran’s musical prowess. Instead, his attorney, Ilene Farkas, argued that the chord progressions and rhythms in “Thinking Out Loud” were basic musical elements and essential for all songwriters to use.
On the other side of the courtroom, Keisha Rice, who represented the heirs of the late songwriter Ed Townsend, contended that Sheeran wasn’t simply using common musical elements but rather combining them in a unique way that infringed on Townsend’s work. Rice urged the jurors to use common sense and not be swayed by Sheeran’s commercial success when deciding whether the two songs were similar.
Ultimately, the trial hinged on whether Sheeran had crossed the line between inspiration and imitation. Music fans eagerly awaited the verdict in this landmark legal case that could have far-reaching implications for the music industry.
Earlier This Year, Sheeran Won A Copyright Battle In London At The High Court
Ed Sheeran also emerged victorious in a High Court copyright battle over his 2017 smash hit “Shape of You” last year. The singer-songwriter has been cleared of allegations that he plagiarized the 2015 song “Oh Why” by Sami Chokri, who performs under the name Sami Switch.
Chokri had argued that the “Oh I” hook in Sheeran’s track was “strikingly similar” to an “Oh why” refrain in his song. However, Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” Chokri’s music.
Following the verdict, Sheeran spoke out against baseless claims like Chokri’s, which he said were becoming all too common. In a social media video, the chart-topping artist argued that such claims damaged the songwriting industry, which uses only a finite number of notes and chords in pop music. He also pointed out that around 60,000 songs are released on Spotify daily, making coincidences more likely.
“Shape of You” was the UK’s top-selling song of 2017 and is still the most-streamed song ever on Spotify. Judge Zacaroli acknowledged similarities between the one-bar phrase in “Shape of You” and “Oh Why,” but he also noted that such similarities were only a starting point for a possible copyright infringement.
However, the singer-songwriter successfully defended himself against claims that he had plagiarized a song by Marvin Gaye. The verdict is a significant win for Sheeran and the music industry. It reinforces the importance of protecting artistic creativity while ensuring that common musical elements are not unfairly restricted. What do you think about it? Please share with us in the comments.