British Pop singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran waited seven years for the case accusing him of plagiarism to begin. Today, May 4, 2023, the Manhattan jury found the Pop icon not liable: He did not plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s 1973 song “Let’s Get It On” melody for his 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud.”
After the jury returned its verdict, Sheeran told reporters he was happy with the outcome. “It looks like I’m not having to retire from my day job, after all.” Furthermore, he praised the jury because of their decision songwriters would continue to have artistic freedom.
The heirs of Ed Townsend, the songwriter who co-composed “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye, filed the lawsuit. According to the Independent, they accused Sheeran of copying the song’s progressions and the melodic and rhythmic elements without permission.
During opening statements, Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, told jurors the similarities in the chord progression and rhythms of both songs were “the letters of the alphabet of music.”
Furthermore, she explained: “These are basic musical building blocks that songwriters now and forever must be free to us, or all of us who love music will be poorer” as a result.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC News: Jury Finds Ed Sheeran not liable in copyright trial; by Marlene Lenthang
Rolling Stone: ‘A Sigh of Relief:’ What Ed Sheeran’s Victory Means for the Future of Music Copyright Claims; by Ethan Millman
Independent: Ed Sheeran news – live: Singer hugs lawyers after winning Marvin Gaye plagiarism lawsuit; by Ellie Harrison, Inga Parkel, Tom Murray
Reuters: Ed Sheeran copyright case goes to jury in New York; by Brendan Pierson