Ed Sheeran has been cleared of copyright infringement after a US court ruled that he did not copy Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On when composing Thinking Out Loud. The heirs of Gaye’s co-writer had argued that Sheeran, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Publishing owed them money for using elements of the song in his 2014 hit. Sheeran had previously stated that he would give up his music career if found guilty.
But, after jurors ruled that Sheeran “independently” created his song, the singer hugged his team in relief. Speaking outside court, Sheeran said he was “obviously very happy” with the outcome.
However, he also expressed frustration that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court. “If the jury had decided this matter the other way, we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters.”
Ed Sheeran wins copyright infringement case in US court over hit song Thinking Out Loud
During the trial, Sheeran played parts of Thinking Out Loud on the guitar and said he wrote the song at home in England with his friend Amy Wadge and had been inspired by his grandparents and a new romantic relationship. Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, argued that similarities in chord progressions and rhythms were “the letters of the alphabet of music” and that songwriters must be free to use them.
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend, accused Sheeran of copyright infringement but walked past reporters smoking a cigarillo saying only, “God is good all the time, all the time God is good.”
Sheeran has faced other copyright claims in the past, including one over his 2017 hit Shape of You. He is also currently facing claims over Thinking Out Loud from a company owned by investment banker David Pullman, who holds copyright interests in the Gaye song.
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Gaye’s heirs won a $5.3 million judgment from a lawsuit claiming that the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams song Blurred Lines copied Gaye’s Got to Give It Up in 2015. This ruling raised concerns about the impact it could have on songwriters and their creative freedom.
Sheeran’s victory in this recent case may offer some relief to songwriters who fear that their work could be unfairly targeted in copyright infringement claims. And we couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Ed Sheeran, on your well-deserved victory!