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Update: Ed Sheeran Defends Himself Against Copyright Infringement Claims In Court

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On Monday, Ed Sheeran took the stand during his copyright infringement trial, where he was being sued by the estate of one of Marvin Gaye’s co-writers. The plaintiff claims that Sheeran’s hit song “Thinking Out Loud” is a rip-off of the classic “Let’s Get It On.” The pop singer’s frustration was evident during the trial, with Sheeran even threatening to quit music if the court rules against him, according to the Daily Mail. How dramatic!

 

Sheeran vehemently denied the accusations, calling them insulting and offensive. He even accused the plaintiff’s lawyer of trying to diminish his success, stating that “Thinking Out Loud” was his first Grammy, and he won a total of four Grammys. Sheeran’s response to the plaintiff’s legal team’s “smoking gun” evidence, a video of Sheeran performing a mashup of his song and the Gaye track during a concert, was that he would be an idiot to plagiarize and then perform it in front of 20,000 people.

Both Sheeran and Gaye’s music have been involved in previous copyright controversies. However, Sheeran won a case last year in the UK after being accused of plagiarizing his song “Shape of You.” Gaye’s estate also won a lawsuit in 2015 against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their song “Blurred Lines,” which had an uncanny likeness to “Got to Give It Up.”

It seems that Sheeran is feeling the heat during the trial, but he’s confident in his innocence. Will the court rule in his favor? We’ll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE:  No more waiting. Ed Sheeran won! Here’s what Ed had to say after the jury decision:

Good afternoon,

I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I’m not going to have to retire from my day job after all – but, at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all. 

We have spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world. 

These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before “Let’s Get It On” was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone.  They are a songwriter’s ‘alphabet’, our tool kit and should be there for us all to use. No-one owns them or the way they are played, in the same way, nobody owns the colour blue.

Unfortunately, unfounded claims like this one are being fueled by individuals who are offered as experts in musical analysis.  In this instance, the other side’s musicologist left out words and notes, presented simple (and different) pitches as melody, creating misleading comparisons and disinformation to find supposed similarities where none exist. They tried to manipulate my and Amy’s song to try to convince the jury that they had a genuine claim, and I am very grateful that the jury saw through those attempts.  This seems so dangerous to me, both for potential claimants who may be convinced to bring a bogus claim, as well as those songwriters facing them.  It is simply wrong. By stopping this practice, we can also properly support genuine music copyright claims so that legitimate claims are rightly heard and resolved. 

If the Jury had decided this matter the other way, we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters.  We need to be able to write our original music and engage in independent creation without worrying at every step of the way that such creativity will be wrongly called into question.  Like artists everywhere, Amy and I work hard to independently create songs which are often based around real-life, personal experiences.  It is devastating to be accused of stealing other people’s songs when we have put so much work into our livelihoods.   

I am 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 piggy bank for anyone to shake. Having to be in New York for this trial has meant that I have missed being with my family at my grandmother’s funeral in Ireland. I won’t get that time back.

These trials take a significant toll on everybody involved, including Kathryn Townsend Griffin.

I want to thank the jury for making a decision that will help to protect the creative process of songwriters here in the United States and around the world.   

I also want to thank my team who has supported me throughout this difficult process and to all the songwriters, musicians and fans who reached out with messages of support over the last few weeks.  

Finally, I want to thank Amy Wadge. Neither of us ever expected that 9 years on from our wonderful writing session that we would be here having to defend our integrity. Amy, I feel so lucky to have you in my life. 

We need songwriters and the wider musical community to come together to bring back common sense. These claims need to be stopped so that the creative process can carry on, and we can all just go back to making music. At the same time, we absolutely need trusted individuals, real experts who help support the process of protecting copyright. Thank you.

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