Jury to decide whether Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On for his 2014 song Thinking Out Loud
A US judge has rejected English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of plagiarising Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic Let’s Get It On for his 2014 smash Thinking Out Loud.
- Judge reportedly said the songs have similiar percussion and basslines
- Sheeran’s defence apparently claims his “sombre” song is very different to Gaye’s “sexual anthem”
- The singer has previously been accused of copying elements of other artists’ songs
In a decision made public on Thursday, US District Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide whether Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records should be liable to the estate and heirs of the late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.
Sheeran reportedly denies ripping off sections of the Marvin Gaye song.
According to the BBC, Judge Stanton said the songs had similar percussion and basslines and listeners might consider the song’s “aesthetic appeal” to be similar.
The judge also claimed there was disagreement over whether the rhythm and harmony of Let’s Get It On was too common to merit copyright protection, the BBC said.
Sheeran’s defence team said Thinking Out Loud differs from Gaye’s classic tune because it has “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love”, the BBC said, while Let’s Get It On is a “sexual anthem”.
Sheeran’s been accused of plagiarism before
It’s not the first time Sheeran has been accused of copying the work of other artists.
In January 2018, two Australian musicians filed a copyright infringement complaint against Sheeran, country music singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, among others, accusing them of plagiarising one of their songs.
Sheeran settled out of court in 2017 over claims his song Photograph copied a song called Amazing by a UK X Factor winner. (ABC News: David Weber)
Sean Carey, a former guitarist in the band Thirsty Merc, and keyboardist and songwriter Beau Golden said The Rest Of Our Life, a song by McGraw and Hill and co-written by Sheeran, is substantially similar to their track When I Found You.
Australian singer Jasmine Rae released When I Found You under her name in 2015, and it was the most played song on Australian country radio, according to the complaint filed in the US District Court in New York.
In 2017, according to the Guardian, Sheeran settled out of court over claims his song Photograph was a “note-for-note” copy of a song called Amazing by UK X Factor winner Matt Cardle.
Also in 2017, the BBC said, the team behind TLC’s song No Scrubs were given writing credits on Sheeran’s smash hit Shape Of You after fans and critics found similarities between elements of the two songs.
Previous payouts over Marvin Gaye songs
It’s also not the first time there have been accusations of modern-day musicians copying the music of Motown legend Marvin Gaye.
In 2015 a US jury ordered pop singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay more than $US7 million ($9.97 million) in damages to the family of Marvin Gaye.
The jury ruled Thicke and Williams copied Gaye’s 1977 hit Got To Give It Up in writing their 2013 song Blurred Lines.
At the time, Gaye’s daughter Nona said: “I’m so filled with emotion it’s hard to get the words out.”
She called the verdict a “miracle” and said the family took legal action because “[Marvin] can’t do it for himself”.