Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” copyright trial starts Monday

A copyright infringement trial that pits Ed Sheeran against the owners of the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s classic hit “Let’s Get It On” begins Monday in Manhattan federal court with jury selection. Billboard reports that opening statements will begin Tuesday.

At issue are alleged similarities between Sheeran’s Grammy-winning hit “Thinking Out Loud” and Gaye’s soul classic, which was co-written by Ed Townsend. Townsend’s heirs sued Sheeran, his record label and his publisher in 2017, alleging that Sheeran copied the melody, harmony and rhythm of Gaye and Townsend’s song. 

Sheeran’s lawyers have argued that musical “building blocks” are ineligible for copyright protection. Lawyers for Townsend’s heirs have pointed to the fact that Sheeran has played a medley of both songs in concert, which they say proves the similarities between the songs. Billboard reported last month that a judge rejected Sheeran’s lawyers’ request to ban video of him performing both songs from being introduced as evidence.

Sheeran won his 2022 case accusing him of copyright infringement over “Shape of You,” while Gaye’s family famously won a 2015 copyright case accusing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of copying Gaye’s hit “Got to Give it Up” for their global smash “Blurred Lines.”

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