After three hours of deliberation, renowned British pop star Ed Sheeran emerged victorious in a copyright infringement lawsuit that accused him of plagiarizing Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit, “Let’s Get It On,” in his 2014 Grammy-winning song, “Thinking Out Loud.”
Sheeran expressed relief at the outcome, stating that he is “obviously happy” about the verdict and joking that he would not need “to retire” from his day job, according to ABC News. However, outside the courthouse Sheeran also shared his frustration around the lawsuit itself:
“I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all. We have spent the last eight years discussing two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies, and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world. These chords are common building blocks, which were used to create music long before ‘Let’s Get It On’ was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone.”
The heirs of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer, filed the lawsuit six years ago, asserting that Sheeran’s song contained “overt common elements” and “striking similarities” to Gaye’s song. In response, Sheeran’s legal team argued in court that any resemblance between the songs was purely coincidental.
During the trial, Sheeran brought his guitar to the courtroom and demonstrated his songwriting process, even performing a portion of “Thinking Out Loud.” He testified that “most pop songs can fit over most pop songs” and has previously mentioned that “there’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music.”
Ben Crump, the plaintiffs’ lawyer and a well-known civil rights attorney, argued during the trial’s opening statements that the case was about “giving credit where credit is due.”
“Thinking Out Loud” won Sheeran his first Grammy Award. Amy Wadge, who co-wrote the song with Sheeran, expressed relief at the verdict, according to CNN.
“I think it even goes beyond music and the idea that it just comes down to the building blocks of anything — if it was a painting or a film — and for a musician who has just relied upon very little musical knowledge for my whole career, it was terrifying to even contemplate that this could even happen,” she said.