Ed Sheeran is emerging victorious from a copyright infringement lawsuit involving his song “Thinking Out Loud” and the Marvin Gaye classic, “Let's Get It On.” A Manhattan jury found in favor of the musician after a trial in which Sheeran played guitar and sang in court.
An emotional trial
The accusation was that Sheeran had copied the score of “Let's Get It On” without the permission of the family of the late Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the song. Noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the plaintiffs, said the case was about “giving credit where credit is due.” The trial was punctuated with highlights, including Sheeran singing and playing guitar during his testimony.
The arguments of both sides
According to the prosecution, Sheeran used the rhythm, chord progression and other elements of the song “Let's Get It On” to create his 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud.” Crump noted that the 1973 soul classic has become a “cornerstone” of American culture. For its part, the defense argued that Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge “independently created” the song “Thinking Out Loud,” which was born out of an “emotional conversation.”
Ed Sheeran's musical demonstration
During the trial, Sheeran performed a mash-up of his and Marvin Gaye's songs to show how common the four-beat chord progression was in his hit “Thinking Out Loud.” He also played a portion of “Thinking Out Loud” while discussing the creative process with Wadge. The singer explained that his producers ended up nicknaming Sheeran's Van Morrison song “Thinking Out Loud” because of the similarities and influence the Northern Irish singer had on his work.
A verdict in favor of creativity
In her closing argument, Ed Sheeran's lawyer, Ilene Farkas, said the trial should never have happened and that Sheeran had been “unfairly accused” of plagiarizing “Let's Get It On.” She stressed the importance of letting artists create freely without fear of being sued. For his part, Ben Crump tried to convince the jurors by presenting a video of Ed Sheeran in concert, mixing “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let's Get It On” as proof of the similarity between the two songs.
Ed Sheeran's reaction to the accusations
After the release of the video, Sheeran spoke up and told the court, “If I had done what you accuse me of, I would be a damn fool to get on stage in front of 25,000 people” . Despite the prosecution's best efforts, the jury eventually returned a verdict in favor of the British artist.
A background to the copyright infringement trial
This is not the first time that the works of Ed Sheeran or Marvin Gaye have been at the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit. Indeed, Sheeran already won a similar lawsuit last year regarding his song “Shape of You”. Similarly, the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who are not involved in the current lawsuit, had won a case in 2015 against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for the song “Got to Give it Up”.
A relief for Ed Sheeran and the music industry
Ed Sheeran's victory in the lawsuit is a relief for him, but also for the music industry, which feared that artists would be held back in their creativity for fear of lawsuits. This verdict marks an important turning point in copyright cases and reinforces the idea that artists should be free to create and build on the works that came before them.
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