Ed Sheeran won’t ‘have to retire… after all’ – as he wins copyright trial over claims he copied Marvin Gaye song
Ed Sheeran has won his copyright trial over similarities between his hit single Thinking Out Loud and the Marvin Gaye 1973 classic Let’s Get It On.
Sheeran was accused of ripping off part of the famed soul track Gaye created with fellow songwriter Ed Townsend in a lawsuit originally filed by heirs of Townsend in 2017.
They alleged the British star’s 2014 number one has “striking similarities” to Let’s Get It On and “overt common elements” that infringe their copyright.
On Thursday, a New York jury decided that Sheeran did not infringe copyright of Let’s Get It On.
The jury took just under three hours to decide he independently created Thinking Out Loud.
Those inside the court said Sheeran stood up and hugged his lawyers when the decision was read out, and his wife was seen wiping away tears.
Speaking outside court, Sheeran said he was “very happy” to have won his case and that he did “not have to retire from [his] day job after all”.
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- ed sheeran
According to reports, the star had said he would be “done” with music should he lose the case.
He added outside court that he was “unbelievable frustrated baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all”.
“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,” he said.
“These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before Let’s Get It On was written.”
He said they should be there for all songwriters to use and no one owns them, in the same way “no one owns the colour blue”.
During a week-long hearing at a federal court in Manhattan, New York City, jurors heard arguments from both sides – as well as a few brief guitar sing-alongs from Sheeran and a recording of the star himself playing a “mash-up” of the two songs on stage.
Both Sheeran and the song’s co-writer, Amy Wadge, gave evidence during the hearing, telling jurors they did not copy Let’s Get It On.
Sheeran said he and other performers frequently perform “mash ups” of songs and that on other occasions he had combined Thinking Out Loud with Van Morrison’s Crazy Love and Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You.
Gaye, who died in 1984, collaborated with Townsend, who died in 2003, to write Let’s Get It On, which topped the Billboard charts in the year it was released. It went on to appear in numerous films and adverts, and has garnered hundreds of millions of streams and radio plays in the past 50 years.
Sheeran, who is from Suffolk, is one of the most successful modern music stars in the world, and Thinking Out Loud, which won a Grammy for song of the year in 2016, is among his biggest hits.
The result in New York comes after the British star won a similar copyright case in the UK in 2022.
In that hearing, he was accused by two lesser-known songwriters of ripping off part of one of their songs for his huge 2017 hit Shape Of You. However, the judge ruled that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a hook from the song.
Following the ruling, Sheeran released a video statement hitting out at “baseless” copyright claims that are “damaging” to the industry.
It has been a difficult period for the star, who opened up about his mental health struggles as he released details of his latest album Divide earlier in 2022 – revealing that his wife was diagnosed with a tumour while she was pregnant and that he suffered “fear, depression and anxiety” as he dealt with her diagnosis as well as the death of his close friend Jamal Edwards.
Sheeran is also facing further claims about Thinking Out Loud in New York from a company that holds copyright interests in the Gaye song.
In 2015, Gaye’s heirs won a $5.3 million judgment from a lawsuit claiming the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams song Blurred Lines copied Gaye’s Got To Give It Up.