Ed Sheeran, seated in a New York City courtroom, listened to opening statements at his copyright infringement trial Tuesday, April 25. The suit alleges similarities between his hit “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” co-written with Ed Townsend, whose heirs filed the suit.
“If you remember nothing else about this trial, about this case, simply remember it is about giving credit where credit is due,” renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said. Crump represents Townsend’s heirs, who have argued Sheeran took the rhythm, chord progression and other elements for “Thinking Out Loud” from “Let’s Get It On,” which Crump said has become a cornerstone in the American experience.
Crump claimed Sheeran “recognized the magic of ‘Let’s Get It On’” and infringed on its copyright for the tune that won him his first Grammy. But Sheeran’s attorney, Ilene Farkas, said Sheeran and co-writer Amy Wadge “independently created” their Grammy-winning song.
“Their song was born from an emotional conversation,” Farkas said. “It was their original creation.”
The defense called “Thinking Out Loud’s” chord progression and rhythm “basic musical building blocks that no one can own” and said the rest of the alleged similarities “do not exist.”
Farkas said Sheeran and Wadge were thinking about personal loss, and the recording of “Thinking Out Loud” had nothing to do with Gaye and Townsend’s song. “’Thinking Out Loud’ is a song about finding everlasting, unconditional love,” she said.
Crump said the plaintiffs “have a smoking gun”: a videotape of Sheeran in concert performing both songs as a mash-up. Crump argued that demonstrates the infringing similarities. Ahead of the trial, the defense asked for the video to be banned from being introduced as evidence, but a judge denied the request.
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