Ed Sheeran faces trial in copyright dispute over song’s similarities to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On

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Ed Sheeran to go to trial over long-running Marvin Gaye copyright issue.

Halfiax born singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran “must face” a trial in a United States court over a long running copyright battle with the family of the songwriter Ed Townsend, Reuters have reported.

Structured Asset Sales LLC, which owns one third of Ed Townsend’s estate, first began filing against Ed Sheeran over copyright infringement in 2018. Now, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan has denied Sheeran’s bid to dismiss the copyright infringement suit

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Structured Asset Sales LLC are claiming $100m (around £900,000) in royalties owed, which may include revenue from ticket sales - a point of contention in the case.

The dispute is the latest in a series of legal battles over Ed Sheeran’s 2014 single, Thinking Out Loud and the 1973 Marvin Gaye classic Let’s Get It On.

A lawsuit from co-writer Ed Townsend’s family first tried to sue Ed Sheeran in 2016 over copyright claims, but the case was dismissed without prejudice in 2017.

Why is Ed Sheeran going to trial?

Marvin Gaye in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1976  (Picture: Evening Standard/Getty Images)Marvin Gaye in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1976  (Picture: Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Marvin Gaye in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1976 (Picture: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Structured Asset Sales LLC claim in their lawsuit that Ed Sheeran’s hit infringed on the copyright of Ed Townsend and Marvin Gaye’s hit, Let’s Get It On, through "the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of ‘Thinking’ are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s Get It On.”

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Judge Louis Stanton said a jury must decide whether the two songs are substantially similar because music experts on both sides of the dispute disagree whether Sheeran’s song mimics Let’s Get It On.

“Although the two musical compositions are not identical, a jury could find that the overlap between the songs’ combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm is very close,” Stanton said.

Judge Stanton also ruled that jurors must decide whether Structured Asset Sales LLC can include concert revenue in damages, rejecting Sheeran’s argument that ticket sales weren’t tied to the alleged copyright infringement.

Sheeran’s song Thinking Out Loud, from the album x, peaked at 1 in the UK Top 40 singles chart in 2015. Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On reach number 31 on the UK singles chart in 1973.

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