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Ed Sheeran appears in US court as copyright trial over Marvin Gaye’s song begins

  • April 26, 2023

Singer Ed Sheeran has arrived at Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday as a high-profile copyright trial began which alleges the pop star ripped off the classic Marvin Gaye tune “Let’s Get it On” with his hit song “Thinking Out Loud.”

Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the family of the co-writer for Gaye’s 1973 hit, claimed in his opening statement that the British singer played his ballad and Gaye’s song back-to-back in a medley during a concert, and called the moment a “smoking gun.”

The trial is the first of three the singer could face from lawsuits over similarities between the two songs.

Sheeran, according to the lawyer for Townsend’s heirs, “recognised the magic” of Gaye’s song and “decided to capture a bit of that magic for his own benefit.”

The lawyer added: “This case is simply about giving credit where credit is due.” 

Crump said Sheeran effectively “confessed” to ripping off Gaye’s song when he performed it live as a medley with “Thinking Out Loud.”

On the other hand, Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, said the two songs are distinct and told jurors that the plaintiffs should not be allowed to “monopolize” a chord progression and melody that are used in countless songs, adding: “No one owns basic musical building blocks.” 

The trial will enter a second phase to determine how much he and his labels owe in damages if the jury finds Sheeran liable for copyright infringement.

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