Judge rules that Ed Sheeran must face copyright trial

Virgin Radio

2 Oct 2022, 10:02

Credit: Getty

The offending number? 'Thinking Out Loud'.

Ed Sheeran has been ordered to stand trial in the US over claims he ripped off Marvin Gaye's 1973 hit 'Let's Get It On.

The pop phenomenon's 2014 song 'Thinking Out Loud' is the accused tune. The news comes six months after Sheeran was cleared of copying his hit song 'Shape Of You'.

In October 2015, the song became the first to be streamed over 500 million times on Spotify. It's also one of the most streamed songs in the UK and has been viewed more than 3.4 billion times on YouTube.

A judge denied Sheeran's bid to dismiss the case, saying a jury should decide on the similarities between the songs.

The singer has hit out at "baseless" copyright claims, which he said were "way too common".

The claim over 'Thinking Out Loud' was originally lodged in 2018, not by Gaye's family but by investment banker David Pullman and a company called Structured Asset Sales, which has acquired a portion of the estate of 'Let's Get It On' co-writer Ed Townsend.

The company allege that Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge 'copied and exploited, without authorisation or credit' the Gaye song, 'including but not limited to the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping'.

They are seeking $100m (£90m) in damages.

Hang on, let's have a listen to 'Thinking Out Loud'.

In transpires that musical experts on both sides of the lawsuit are totally opposed in their views, so US District Judge Louis Stanton has instigated the civil trial to find some resolution.

It's likely that Sheeran would have wished to have avoided a jury trial. Copyright law is especially complex, and superficial similarities between two songs are not necessarily proof of plagiarism.

Shall we listen to 'Let's Get It On', too?


Judge Stanton also ruled that jurors must decide whether SAS can include concert revenue in damages, rejecting Sheeran's argument that ticket sales weren't tied to the alleged infringement.

Sheeran's lawyers did not comment on the judge's ruling. A lawyer for Structured Asset Sales, Hillel Parness, told Reuters the company was 'pleased' with the ruling.

After the 'Shape of You' trial, Sheeran wrote on Instagram: "I hope that this ruling means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end."

He added: "It's really damaging to the songwriting industry. 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."

Anyone think they should just arm wrestle? We think they should arm wrestle.