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Ed Sheeran Wins Copyright Infringement Case

The Sound of Success: Ed Sheeran Wins Copyright Infringement Lawsuit for “Thinking Out Loud”

Amrusha Chati

Amrusha Chati

18 August 20233 min read

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Ed Sheeran Wins Copyright Infringement Case

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    Eva Rinaldi, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

    After winning Grammys, pop star Ed Sheeran wins a copyright infringement lawsuit accusing him of using parts of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” in his hit song “Thinking Out Loud.”

    A Manhattan federal court put an end to the emotional and dramatic trial that played out over two weeks. The trial saw Ed Sheeran playing his guitar in the courtroom to prove a point. He even threatened to quit singing if he lost the case.

    That’s not all. An expert played AI renditions of some songs, and one of the plaintiffs actually collapsed during the proceedings.

    Here’s a look at what this unique trial was all about.

    A tale of two songs

    At the heart of this trail were two immensely popular songs. The Marvin Gaye song “Let’s Get It On” (co-written with producer Townsend) was released in 1973 and sold over two million copies within weeks.

    “Thinking Out Loud” is Sheeran’s debut single, released in 2014. The song propelled him to success after it topped the charts in USA and UK and eventually won him a Grammy.

    The trouble started in 2016. The descendants of Ed Townsend alleged that “The melodic, harmonic and rhythmic compositions in ‘Thinking’ are not the product of independent creation.”

    They claimed that Sheeran and his collaborators had knowingly copied the most essential elements of Gaye’s song, which is protected by copyright. Kathryn Griffin Townsend, Ed Townsend’s daughter, said, “I have to protect my father’s legacy.”

    During the trial, Sheeran argued that his song was an independent creation based on personal experiences. He claimed that he created the song, which is about finding love at an old age, in collaboration with Wadge, soon after the death of his grandfather.

    Much ado about music

    The jury’s unanimous verdict was welcomed by Ed Sheeran and his co-writer for “Thinking Out Loud” Amy Wadge, who was in tears. In a statement to the press, Sheeran talked about why his case was an important precedent for mainstream pop music.

    He’s right, and he’s also lucky because the verdict was in his favor. He didn’t share the same fate as Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who had to pay Marvin Gaye’s family significant sums in similar copyright infringement lawsuits.

    “We’ve spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies, and four chords, which are also different and are used by songwriters every day, all over the world.

    These chords are common building blocks that 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. They are in a songwriter’s alphabet, our toolkit, and should be there for all of us to use. No one owns them or the way they’re played in the same way no one owns the color blue.”

    He said to reporters outside the courthouse.

    All about copyright

    In his statement to the press, the artist thanked the jury for their decision. He said the case would set a precedent for the music industry, allowing artists and their creativity to thrive without the constant threat of litigation.

    “I want to thank the jury for making the decision that will help protect the creative process of songwriters here in the United States and all around the world.”

    However, he also acknowledged the necessity for legal protection for songs and other works of art. “These claims need to be stopped so the creative process can carry on and we can all go back to making music. At the same time, we absolutely need trusted individuals, real experts who help support the process of protecting copyright.”

    Well, we at Trademarkia couldn’t agree more!

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    Amrusha Chati

    Amrusha Chati


    Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.