Ed Sheeran being sued for £76m for allegedly ripping off Marvin Gaye song

Friday, June 29, 2018

Ed Sheeran is being sued for 100 million dollars (£76.4 million) for allegedly ripping off parts of Marvin Gaye's classic Let's Get It On for his hit Thinking Out Loud.

According to legal documents lodged in New York, the British star's 2014 track copies the "melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping" of Gaye's 1973 song.

The claim has been brought by a company called Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which owns part of the copyright of Gaye's song.

Gaye co-wrote the track alongside Edward Townsend in 1973. Townsend died in 2003 but SAS bought one-third of the copyright.

Not the first lawsuit

Sheeran, 27, has already faced legal action over the track after the heirs of Townsend also said Thinking Out Loud copied Let's Get It On. They launched legal action last year and SAS tried to join their lawsuit, but were rejected.

The album X, on which the song features, sold more than 15 million copies.

It was also nominated for a Grammy for Song Of The Year in 2015.

Other defendants listed in the claim include Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the Atlantic record label and Amy Wadge, Sheeran's co-writer on the song.

In 2017 the team behind TLC’s 1999 hit single No Scrubs were given writing credits for Sheeran’s number one single Shape Of You after comparisons between the two singles surfaced online.

Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle and producer Kevin Briggs now appear on American copyright website ASCAP's listing of the song.

'Devastating blow' to musicians

The Gaye estate also successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams over their popular hit Blurred Lines, citing the song infringed on the copyright of song Got To Give It Up.

Jacqueline Nguyen, a judge in the US Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, disagreed with the results, arguing the two tracks “are not objectively similar”.

 “They differ in melody, harmony and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere,” she wrote.

“The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome. They shouldn’t be. They own copyrights in many musical works, each of which (including ‘Got To Give It Up’) now potentially infringes the copyright of any famous song that preceded it.

 “While experts are invaluable in identifying and explaining elements that appear in both works, judges must still decide whether, as a matter of law, these elements collectively support a finding of substantial similarity. Here, they don’t, and the verdict should be vacated.”