Ed Sheeran Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over Marvin Gaye Song

Posted on May 4, 2023

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has successfully defended himself in an infringement lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that Ed Sheeran's 2016 hit song, "Thinking Out Loud," borrowed components from Marvin Gaye's 1973 hit "Let's Get It On." The jury decided that did not violate Gaye's copyright.

The copyright case was brought against Sheeran by the estate of the late Ed Townsend in 2016 and went to trial last month. Townsend cowrote the song with Gaye. Part of the lawsuit alleged that "the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of Thinking are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of Let's."

Sheeran said in a statement after the decision in his favor, "Like artists everywhere, [Amy Wadge, Sheeran's co-writer] and I work hard to independently create songs that are often based on real life personal experiences. It's devastating to be accused of stealing someone else's songs when we've put so much work into our livelihoods. I'm just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy. I am not and will never allow myself to be a piggybank for anyone to shake."

"Thinking Out Loud co-writer Amy Wadge told People, "You're told 'Just tell the truth,' and that's what we did, and we've got the conclusion that we could have only hoped for. I'm so, so relieved and very emotional."

Here's a video clip where Sheeran also says that "these claims need to be stopped so the creative process can carry on and we can all go back to making music."

This is not the first lawsuit against Sheeran. He made a statement about bogus copyright lawsuits last year (see Techdirt) and how they are damaging to the music industry. In that statement he said, "There's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify-that's 22 million songs a year—and there’s only 12 notes that are available."

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