Mimesis Law
21 November 2017

Ed Sheeran Sued For Copying “Heart” Of Marvin Gaye Hit

August 11, 2016 (IP Flow) — British singer-songwriter and hit-making machine, Ed Sheeran, is being sued for copyright infringement for allegedly copying elements of Marvin Gaye’s song “Let’s Get It On” in his 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud”. The lawsuit was filed in New York by the heirs of Ed Townsend, co-writer of the Gaye track, and claims that the song copies the “heart” of “Let’s Get It On”.

While I don’t believe that Sheeran is a legitimate musical artist who should even dream of being mentioned in the same sentence as music legend Marvin Gaye, that’s neither here nor there or the issue in the case at hand.

“Thinking Out Loud” was a monster hit in 2014; it was Sheeran’s first number one single worldwide, winning ‘Best Song’ at the Grammy’s in 2016 and has to date been streamed over one billion times.

Townsend’s heirs allege that core elements of the 1973 song were copied and repeated continuously throughout Sheeran’s track, stating that:  “The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of ‘Thinking’ are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.'” They are further requesting that damages be assessed by a jury trial.

Richard Busch, the attorney who successfully won a $7.4 million copyright infringement suit for Gaye’s estate against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke last year over their song “Blurred Lines”, will be representing Townsend’s heirs in this matter.

The suit is not the first time similarities between the two songs were remarked. Spin’s  Andrew Unterberger noted in an article published following the “Blurred Lines” judgment noting:

It is also an incredibly obvious successor to Marvin Gaye’s 1973 superlative slow jam “Let’s Get It On” — the gently loping four-note bass pattern and crisp ’70s soul drums absolutely smack of the Gaye classic, as do the embrace-insistent lyrics and general candlelit-bedroom feel.

Judge for yourselves with the following video captured at a Sheeran gig in Zurich in 2014 where he blends the two songs:

Sheeran is currently embroiled in an unrelated suit involving his single “Photograph” which California-based songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard claim he copied “note for note” and are seeking $20 million in damages not including royalties.

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