Ed Sheeran Scores Another 'Thinking Out Loud' Win
Ed Sheeran has scored another victory in the battle over the originality of his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud.”
Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which owns one-third of the rights to the 1973 Marvin Gaye song “Let’s Get It On,” sued Sheeran and others in 2018 alleging that “Thinking Out Loud” copies many of the elements of “Let’s Get It On.”
But, in a summary judgment published on Tuesday, U.S. District Court judge Louis L. Stanton dismissed the case, with prejudice. “It is an unassailable reality that the chord progression and harmonic rhythm in ‘Let’s Get It On’ are so commonplace, in isolation and in combination, that to protect their combination would give ‘Let’s Get It On’ an impermissible monopoly over a basic musical building block," he wrote.
Stanton is the judge who recently presided over a trial at which Sheeran defended his song against claims of copyright infringement by the estate of “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Townsend Jr. A jury cleared Sheeran, who expressed frustration "that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all."
In his ruling this week in the SAS case, Stanton noted that the chord progression in “Let’s Get It On” had been used “at least” 29 times before Townsend and Gaye wrote the song and in another 23 songs before“Thinking Out Loud.”
He wrote: “There is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants infringed the protected elements of ‘Let's Get It On. The answer is that they did not.”
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.)
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