In a case closely watched by the global entertainment industry, a jury in New York has ruled that British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is not liable for copyright infringement. The case, which centre on whether Sheeran plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On, will be remembere as a major victory for recording artists.
Sheeran had previously stated that if he lost the case, he would leave the music industry. “If that happens, I’m done, I’m stopping,” he declared. “I find it extremely insulting to devote my entire life to being a performer and songwriter only to have it belittled.” Sheeran hugged his lawyer after the verdict was read. Cherry Seaborn, his wife, and co-writer Amy Wadge were reportedly in attendance.
Sheeran told reporters outside court, “I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case. It appears that I will not have to retire from my day job after all.” At the same time, I’m extremely frustrate that such baseless claims are allowe d to go to court at all.”
He describe being accuse of stealing someone else’s song as “devastating,” adding that he is “just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy” and will never allow himself to be “a piggybank for anyone to shake.”
Sheeran’s lawyer, told jurors in Manhattan federal court that there were similarities in the chord progressions and rhythms of Gaye’s classic and Sheeran’s hit Thinking Out Loud.
However, Keisha Rice, who represents Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend’s heirs in their lawsuit against Sheeran and his record label. State that her clients did not claim to own basic musical elements but rather “the way in which these common elements were uniquely combine.”
“Mr Sheeran is counting on you to be very, very overwhelmed by his commercial success,” she said, urging the jurors to use “common sense” in determining whether the songs are similar.
The judge had instructed the jury to deliberate, stating that “independent creation is a complete defence, no matter how similar that song is.” After three hours, the jury reached a decision. Townsend’s heirs filed a lawsuit against Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group, and his music publisher Sony Music in 2017.
A video of Sheeran
A video of Sheeran combining the two songs on stage was show. “I’d be an idiot to stand on stage in front of 25,000 people if I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing,”. He argued. The singer is also facing claims in the same court over Thinking Out Loud from a company owned by investment banker David Pullman that owns copyright to the Gaye song. Sheeran won a separate copyright trial in London last year for his hit Shape of You.
Gaye’s heirs won a $5.3 million judgement in 2015 in a lawsuit alleging that the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams song Blurred Lines copied Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.
The singer is the subject of a new Disney+ documentary.