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HomeCelebrityEd Sheeran in court again over an accusation of copyright infringement over...

Ed Sheeran in court again over an accusation of copyright infringement over Marvin Gaye song, Web Fans are watching

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Shutterstock Kathy Hutchins

British Singer Ed Sheeran in court again over an accusation of copyright infringement. The artist has been hit with accusations of copyright infringement on multiple occasions throughout his career.

The implications could be significantly bigger for Sheeran. Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” (1973) is allegedly plagiarized by him as the Gaye co-writer Ed Townsend’s family filed the lawsuit in 2016. A jury will determine the damages, which are expected to be in the millions if Sheeran is proven responsible.

Sheeran testified in a New York courtroom less than a month after winning a copyright infringement case involving his biggest hit, Shape of You, to refute accusations that his song Thinking Out Loud plagiarized Marvin Gaye’s 1973 song Let’s Get It On.

The claim was made by the musical artist Ed Townsend’s heirs, who are best known for their 1958 song For Your Love. Let’s Get It On was written by Townsend and Gaye.  Townsend passed away in 2003, but his sister and daughter, as well as other family members and heirs to a portion of his fortune, initially filed the lawsuit against Sheeran in 2016.  Ben Crump is representing Ed Townsends airs.

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In 2018, he was sued over the song “Thinking Out Loud,” with allegations that it copied parts of the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get It On” and “Amazing” by Matt Cardle. Sheeran prevailed in a 2022 lawsuit brought by singer Sami Chokri (also known as Sami Switch), who claimed that Sheeran’s Shape of You plagiarized his song track Oh Why. Additionally, it has been reported that Sheeran reached a settlement outside of court regarding claims that his song Photograph plagiarized Matt Cardle’s Amazing from the X Factor. According to reports, the settlement cost $5 million USD.

Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get It On, according to Sheeran’s attorneys, are “versions of a similar and unprotectable chord progression that was freely available to all songwriters,” an earlier Associated Press story stated.  Sheeran’s attorneys wrote in their defense filing, “It is such a basic chord progression that it is taught in elementary guitar method books, one of which ironically opines that [Let’s Get It On] did not infringe earlier songs using the same progression since it is so ‘common.”

While Sheeran has denied any intentional copying of other artists’ works, these accusations raise important questions about the line between inspiration and plagiarism in the music industry.

One of the key issues in copyright infringement cases is the concept of “substantial similarity.” This legal standard assesses whether the alleged infringing work shares enough elements with the original work to constitute a violation of copyright. This standard can be difficult to apply in practice, as it requires a careful examination of the similarities and differences between two pieces of music.

Sheeran has maintained that any similarities between his songs and those of other artists are purely coincidental. In the case of “Shape of You,” he has stated that he was inspired by the rhythms of Caribbean music, rather than any particular song. He has also pointed out that “Thinking Out Loud” was written before he had ever heard “Let’s Get It On” or “Amazing.”

However, these arguments may not be enough to protect Sheeran from legal liability if a court were to find that his songs infringed on the copyright of other artists. Copyright law can be complex and fact-specific, and a determination of infringement requires a careful analysis of the specific elements at issue.

Moreover, even if a court were to find that Sheeran did not infringe on another artist’s copyright, the accusations could still have a negative impact on his reputation and career. In an industry where originality is highly valued, being accused of copying other artists can be damaging to an artist’s credibility and standing with fans.

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At the same time, it’s worth noting that musical inspiration and borrowing have a long history in the music industry. Many artists draw on the sounds and styles of their predecessors to create something new and fresh. It’s not uncommon for songs to share certain musical elements or even entire chord progressions.

The issue of copyright infringement in the music industry is a complex one. While accusations of copying can be damaging to an artist’s reputation, they also raise important questions about creativity, originality, and the boundaries of intellectual property. As the music industry continues to evolve, it’s likely that these debates will continue to play out in courts, among fans, and within the broader cultural conversation.

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