Ed Sheeran yesterday appeared at Manhattan Federal Court to deny he had ripped off Marvin Gaye’s soul classic Let’s Get it On for his 2014 hit song Thinking Out Loud.
Lawyers for the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer, Ed Townsend, accused Sheeran of copying elements of the song, alleging there were ‘striking similarities’ between the tracks.
In court, Ben Crump showed a video of the star performing a mash-up of the songs, which he said amounted to a ‘confession’. ‘We have a smoking gun,’ he said.
Sheeran replied that he would have been ‘quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that’, arguing many pop songs share the same chords.
The trial was first filed in 2017. It has finally made it to a trial expected to last a week in the court of 95-year-old judge Louis L. Stanton.
Ed Sheeran leaves US Federal Court in New York City on 25 April, 2023
Ed Sheeran is pictured arriving at the Manhattan Federal Court to testify on Tuesday
British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran arrives to testify over the Marvin Gaye copyright infringement claim at the Manhattan Federal Court in New York, 25 April 2023
Ed Sheeran leaves the Manhattan Federal Court on 25 April amid a copyright infringement trial
Sheeran appeared to testify at the trial yesterday. Pictured: Sheeran leaves the Pearl St court
During the trial, lawyers for the heirs of Townsend showed the video of the mash-up to support their allegation Sheeran, his label and music publisher owe them a share of the profits for the song.
Ben Crump said the case was about ‘giving credit where credit is due.’
Sheeran’s lawyer Ilene Farkas insisted Sheeran and his co-writer, Amy Wadge, wrote their song independently and did not steal from Townsend and Gaye.
Sheeran – who is worth a staggering $200mn – said that he composed Thinking Out Loud with Wadge in a collaborative writing session inspired by his grandparents’ romance.
Addressing Keisha Rice, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, Sheeran said many pop songs use the same chord structures, and that he performs ‘mash-ups’ of many songs at his concerts.
He said it was ‘quite simple to weave in and out of songs’ that are in the same key.
‘You could go from ‘Let it Be’ to ‘No Woman, No Cry’ and switch back,’ Sheeran testified, referring to the Beatles and Bob Marley classics.
Jurors in Ed Sheeran’s trial were urged to keep their composure while watching a video of the British star performing a medley of his hit song ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and Marvin Gaye’s soul classic ‘Let’s Get it On’.
‘We don’t allow dancing,’ presiding US District Judge Louis Stanton told the seven-person jury at the Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday.
Farkas said the two songs are distinct and told jurors that the plaintiffs should not be allowed to ‘monopolize’ a chord progression used in countless songs.
Sheeran at one point grew frustrated when Rice cut off his response about the mash-up.
‘I feel like you don’t want me to answer because you know that what I’m going to say is actually going to make quite a lot of sense,’ he said.
Sheeran is expected to testify again later in the trial as part of the defense case.
If the jury finds Sheeran liable for copyright infringement, the trial will enter a second phase to determine how much he and his labels owe in damages.
The first trial is expected to last about a week.
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, daughter of Ed Townsend, Marvin Gaye’s co-writer ‘Let’s Get It On’ arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for the start of the copyright trial against singer Ed Sheeran
Kathryn Griffin Townsend (C) speaks to the press as she arrives at Manhattan Federal Court
Kathryn Townsend Griffin (C) daughter of singer and songwriter Ed Townsend, arrives at New York federal court before the start of a copyright infringement trial against singer Ed Sheeran
Mike Gillbert, partner and copyright infringement expert at Marks & Clerk, told DailyMail.com the trial had possible implications for future cases.
He said: ‘Despite his clear victory in the English courts when faced with similar allegations from Chokri of copying harmonic progressions in Shape of You last year, Ed Sheeran will again be facing accusations of thematic copying but this time in the US justice system.
‘Many had hoped that the earlier trial in the UK will have drawn a clear line in the sand for artists considering bringing similar claims to court.
‘Over recent years, a growing number of these kinds of copyright infringement cases have reached the court and the decision in the Chokri trial ought to have sent a clear signal that should deter future claimants.
‘The truth is, big artists are all too aware of the obligations they’re under to pay credit where credit’s due. But this current battle is not with an artist, but with a songwriter’s estate. And the claim was commenced years before the Shape of You decision was handed down last year.
‘The trial – due to start on Monday next week – was also delayed by 6 years partly down to the pandemic. We await to see how the evidence plays out and the decision in due course.’
American singer, songwriter and record producer Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) performs live on stage during a Kool Jazz Festival concert performance in the United States in July 1976
Way back when: The heirs of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the 1973 classic, have sued Sheeran, alleging ‘striking similarities’ and ‘overt common elements’ between the 2014 track and the Motown hit (Townsend pictured in 1959)
Marvin Gaye’s soul classic ‘Let’s Get It On’ has been heard in countless films and commercials and garnered hundreds of millions of streams, spins and radio plays since it came out in 1973.
Townsend, who also wrote the 1958 R&B doo-wop hit ‘For Your Love,’ was a singer, songwriter and lawyer. He died in 2003.
‘Thinking Out Loud’ won a Grammy for song of the year in 2016.
Ed Sheeran has sold more than 150mn records worldwide, winning Song of the Year in 2016 for Thinking Out Loud, five Brit awards in the United Kingdom and six Billboard Music Awards.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12013103/Ed-Sheeran-takes-stand-US-court-copyright-trial-Marvin-Gayes-Lets-Get-It-On.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270