Ed Sheeran And Marvin Gaye Copyright Trial Begins In New York 

The copyright trial between Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ is beginning today in New York with jury selection and opening statements. 

The trial began with the heirs of Ed Townsend, co-writer for Gaye’s 1973 ‘Let’s Get it On,’ suing Sheeran alleging that the singer’s 2014 hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’ has “striking similarities and overt common elements that violate their copyright” of ‘Let’s Get It On.’

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The lawsuit was initially filed in 2017, and is now going to trial which will likely last a week in the Manhattan federal courtroom. Sheeren is among the witnesses expected to testify. 

The jury will likely hear recordings of both songs and read their lyrics multiple times throughout the trial, as jurors are supposed to only consider the raw elements of the melody, harmony, and rhythm that make up the composition of Gaye’s song as it’s documented with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Sheeran’s attorney’s have stated that the song’s similarities only work to emphasize the basis of pop music. In a court filing, they stated: “The two songs share versions of a similar and un-protectable chord progression that was freely available to all songwriters.”

The Townsend family attorney has emphasized in the lawsuit that Sheeran himself has mashed together the two songs during his own live performances of ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ and are planning to use a YouTube video of one of the performances as evidence for the jury. 

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Judge Louis Stanton initially denied the request to submit the video as evidence, but will reconsider after other evidence is presented. 

Atlantic Records and Sony/ATV Music Publishing are named as defendants in the lawsuit as well. Plaintiffs in copyright lawsuits tend to list a wide range of defendants which the judge has the power to dwindle down. 

One year ago, Sheeran won a copyright lawsuit in the UK over his 2017 song, ‘Shape Of You,’ and then took to Twitter to discuss the “culture” of these types of lawsuits. 

“I feel 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, even if there is no basis for the claim. It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”