Ed Sheeran has appeared in court in New York City to deny that his single Thinking Out Loud copied Let's Get it On by Marvin Gaye. The successors of Ed Townsend assert that Sheeran, Sony Music Publishing and Warner Music Group owe them compensation for copying the song.
An attorney dubbed Sheeran's use of Gaye's lyrics at his concerts a "smoking gun" as the case began. The 32-year-old Grammy winner testified that he did not duplicate Gaye's 1973 single. In response to a question from attorney Keisha Rice regarding his song Take it Back, which contains the lyrics "plagiarism is hidden," Sheeran affirmed that he had written the lyrics.
She stated that she would request context if necessary and then inquired about concert footage captured in Zurich that showed him mixing lyrics from Gaye's song with Thinking Out Loud. Earlier, another family attorney, civil rights advocate Ben Crump, argued that the concert footage constituted a "smoking gun" confession.
Sheeran responded that he sometimes combines tracks with similar chord progressions during his performances, and appeared frustrated when Ms. Rice interrupted him. "You could switch back and forth between 'Let It Be' and 'No Woman, No Cry,'" Sheeran said under oath, referencing the Beatles and Bob Marley classics.
On Tuesday, as the trial began, US District Judge Louis Stanton instructed the seven-member jury that dancing wasn't allowed regardless of the fact that music would be played in the courtroom. The trial is anticipated to last a minimum of one week. If the jury deems the pop star liable for copyright infringement, the second phase of the trial will determine the amount he must pay.
The singer is about to embark on a North American stadium tour and release a new album when the court case is filed. Tuesday morning, Sheeran's attorney argued that both compositions are unique and that no artist should be permitted to "monopolize" commonly used chord progressions.
Ilene Farkas stated that no one owns fundamental musical elements. In an earlier court filing, his attorneys stated that the two songs share a similar, unprotected chord progression that was readily available to all songwriters. The daughter of Mr. Townsend testified before Mr. Sheeran, according to sources.
The newspaper reported that Kathryn Griffin-Townsend described Sheeran as a great artist with a great future. She told the jury that she reluctantly brought the case because she has to protect her father's legacy. The latest trial comes one year after Sheeran was exonerated of copying his hit song Shape Of You during a trial in London.
The claim over Thinking Out Loud was filed in 2018 by investment financier David Pullman and a company called Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which bought a portion of Let's Get It On co-author Ed Townsend's estate. This is not the only prosecution Sheeran is facing regarding Thinking Out Loud, which topped the UK charts in 2014 and won the Grammy Award for song of the year in 2016.
A distinct suit filed by another portion of Townsend's estate is currently awaiting trial, while SAS has filed a second suit, which is currently on hold.