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Ed Sheeran Wins 'Thinking Out Loud' Copyright Lawsuit

'I'm unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all,' said the pop singer

Ed Sheeran Wins 'Thinking Out Loud' Copyright Lawsuit

Pop singer Ed Sheeran won a copyright lawsuit involving his 2014 song “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s song “Lets Get It On.”

Following three hours of deliberation, a Manhattan jury found that Sheeran did not infringe on the hit song’s copyright. The lawsuit, filed by the family of songwriter Ed Townsend in 2017, accused Sheeran of copying the sheet music for “Let’s Get It On” and using the rhythm, chord progression, and other components for his song.

"I'm obviously very happy with the outcome of the case. And it looks like I'm not having to retire from my day job after all," said Sheeran while speaking to the press outside of the courthouse on May 4. "But at the same time, I'm unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all."

Sheeran won a Grammy for “Thinking Out Loud” in 2016. The song was released as part of his second studio album and was co-written with Amy Wadge. The singer-songwriter’s request for the case to be thrown out in 2019 was denied by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan.

“Although the two compositions are not identical, an average lay observer could conclude that parts of TOL were appropriated from LGO,” Stanton wrote in his decision per Billboard. “Even applying the ‘more discerning’ analysis for works that have both protectable and unprotectable elements, the overlap of the protectable elements alone prevents a judgment of noninfringement as a matter of law.”

During the week-long trial, Sheeran and Wadge both took the stand to testify. Sheeran, at one point, performed a medley of Gaye’s song and “Thinking Out Loud” to demonstrate how commonplace the chord progression at the center of the complaint was. He also performed “Thinking Out Loud” on his guitar and told the jury he had written the song in England while reflecting on his grandparents’ relationship.

Keisha Rice, the attorney representing Townsend’s heirs, told the jury that Sheeran was "counting on you to be very, very overwhelmed by his commercial success.” She asked that the jurors use their “common sense” to decide if the two songs were similar, per The BBC.

Sheeran won a similar lawsuit in 2022 that was filed against him in the United Kingdom over his 2017 hit “Shape of You.” The complaint was brought by Sami Chokri, also known as Sami Switch, who claimed Sheeran had copied his 2015 song “Oh Why.” After an 11-day trial, a High Court judge ruled the similarities between the two songs did not constitute copyright infringement and that Sheeran had not heard “Oh Why” before writing his song. 

"We've spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world," Sheeran said after the latest verdict was read. "These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before ‘Let's Get It On’ was written."

Sheeran is also facing a lawsuit from the owners of the right to “Let’s Get It On” – investment banker David Pulman and Structured Asset Sales (SAS), a firm that represents Townsend’s estate. The plaintiffs were seeking $100 million in damages 

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