England. No “piggy bank”: Ed Sheeran wins copyright case in New York

UK singer Ed Sheeran has walked out of New York federal court after winning his copyright infringement lawsuit. Photo: John Minchillo/AP/dpa


British singer Ed Sheeran (32) has won a lawsuit in New York for alleged copyright infringement. Sheeran did not copy his song “Thinking Out Loud” from Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” a jury unanimously found after hours of deliberations in New York on Thursday.

“Of course I’m very happy with the outcome of the case,” Sheeran said after the verdict outside court. “But at the same time, I’m incredibly frustrated that baseless claims like this are being allowed to go to court.” For eight years, he and the plaintiffs argued over two songs with dramatically different lyrics and melodies. The basic four chords are used every day by songwriters around the world.

The estates of American musician Ed Townsend, who died in 2003, accused Sheeran of copyright infringement. Townsend released the 1973 single “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye. Sheeran defended himself in part in the process and denied the allegations. “Thinking Out Loud” is based on the “basic building blocks of music” and chords and rhythms that no one can own. Sheeran cited similarities between The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”

Another reason for Sheeran’s regret after the verdict: “It’s devastating to be accused of stealing someone else’s song when we have so much work to do for our living.” He will never be a “coin” that people can wave to get money. He also missed his grandmother’s funeral in Ireland because of the procedure. “I’ll never get that time back.”

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The process was postponed several times. Like his colleagues such as Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, Sheeran has repeatedly faced accusations of copyright infringement in recent years.

Sheeran even took his own guitar to court to explain to the jury how he writes songs. He played and sang parts of “Thinking Out Loud” and wanted to show how quickly and intuitively he composes songs – sometimes several in one day. It leaves no room for thinking and copying other songs at the same time.

In their testimony, the plaintiffs’ attorneys presented a mash-up Sheeran performed in 2014: in which the musician combined his song “Thinking Out Loud” with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” This fact clearly demonstrates copying, so the argument goes. Sheeran responded incredulously: “If I’ve done what you’re accusing me of, I’d be an idiot to put myself on stage in front of 20,000 people and do it.”


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