Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” copyright lawsuit may cost US$100 million
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran will face a jury trial for plagiarizing Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit Let’s Get It On to write his song 2014 song Thinking Out Loud, after he failed to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit alleges that Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge "copied and exploited, without authorization or credit."
They are accused of using melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, instrumental, and dynamic elements from Gaye’s song.
US District Judge Louis Stanton highlighted a disagreement between musical experts on both sides of the lawsuit as a reason for ordering the civil trial.
"There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work," the judge wrote. "A work may be copyrightable even though it is entirely a compilation of unprotectable elements."
The issue between Sheeran and the estate of the song's late co-writer, Ed Townsend, first began in 2016.
That year, Sheeran was sued by Townsend's family, but the case was ultimately dismissed the following year.
After the Townsend family sold a third of their shares in Let's Get It On to Structured Asset Sales, the organization relaunched the suit in 2018 for a reported US$100 million.
David Pullman, the owner of Structured Asset Sales, said after the ruling that he was "pleased" that the case will go to a jury, and that he "looks forward to more success in this case which involves the largest copyright infringement in history," according to Billboard.
It's not the first time Sheeran has been hit with claims of copying another artist's music.
In June, months after winning his plagiarism lawsuit over the hit song "Shape of You," Ed Sheeran was awarded more than US$1 million in legal costs.
Sheeran and his two co-writers had been locked in a legal tussle for years with songwriter Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue, who claimed that the 2017 mega-hit ripped off their track "Oh Why."
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