Ed Sheeran Says He's 'Done' If He Loses Plagiarism Lawsuit
Ed Sheeran said Monday he’s “done” if he loses the plagiarism lawsuit over his hit “Thinking Out Loud.”
Testifying in a New York City courtroom on Monday, the singer-songwriter shared his frustration at being accused of ripping off the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get It On.”
“I find it really insulting to devote my whole life to being a performer and a songwriter and have someone diminish it," Sheeran said, according to reporting.
“This sort of stuff is really common in songwriting now. If you write songs and you’re successful, people come after you.”
Sheeran said he has the support of other singers – whom he did not name – worried about being sued over their work.
Asked how he would feel if the jury finds he copied Gaye’s song, Sheeran reportedly replied: “If that happens, I’m done. I’m stopping.”
Sheeran is defending himself against a lawsuit filed in 2017 by the estate of Ed Townsend Jr., who co-wrote 1973’s “Let’s Get It On.” It alleged there are “striking similarities” and “overt common elements” between it and “Thinking Out Loud.” Lawyers representing Sheeran argued that the two songs share “versions of a similar and unprotectable chord progression that was freely available to all songwriters.”
Sheeran testified that when he and Amy Wadge wrote “Thinking Out Loud” they thought it evoked Van Morrison. (Wadge testified it reminded her of Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.”)
He also slammed the plaintiff’s musicologist Alexander Stewart, who testified that the first 24 seconds of “Thinking Out Loud” were similar to “Let's Get It On.”
Sheeran fumed: “If I have to be honest, what he’s doing here is criminal. I don’t know how he could be an expert. Obviously, just my opinion here.”
Another lawsuit over "Thinking Out Loud," filed in 2018, is pending. Last September, a judge rejected a motion to dismiss, writing: “There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work. A work may be copyrightable even though it is entirely a compilation of unprotectable elements."
Last April, Sheeran beat a 2019 plagiarism lawsuit filed over his song “Shape Of You.” After an 11-day trial in London, a judge ruled that even though there were “similarities” between the song and one by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, Sheeran and co-writers Johnny McDaid and Steve McCutcheon “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied the melody.
After the verdict, Sheeran complained that claims of copyright infringement “are way too common now” and are “really damaging to the songwriting industry.” He added: “There are only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen. This really does have to end.”
(Last June, Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon were awarded nearly $1.5 million in legal costs.)
In 2018, Sheeran settled a copyright infringement lawsuit from songwriters who alleged that his 2014 hit “Photograph” was a “note-for-note copying” of their 2009 song “Amazing.” That same year, two songwriters filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sheeran that claimed the melody of “The Rest Of Our Life” – which Sheeran wrote for country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill – is ripped from their song “When I Found You.” The case was later settled.
Listen to music from Ed Sheeran & Marvin Gaye