Ed Sheeran wins copyright court case over Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On'

Ed Sheeran says he's 'obviously very happy' after winning a copyright court case, claiming he copied Marvin Gaye’s 'Let’s Get It On,' ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie has the latest

Ed Sheeran has won a copyright court case that claimed he copied parts of Marvin Gaye’s hit song 'Let’s Get It On' in his award-winning track, 'Thinking Out Loud'.

The British musician was taken to court by the family of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer of the classic 1970s tune.

They said Sheeran’s 2014 song, written with collaborator Amy Wadge, bore “striking similarities” and “overt common elements” to 'Let’s Get It On'.

Sheeran said he was "obviously very happy" with the jury's verdict, which found he had not infringed on the family’s copyright interest in Gaye’s song.

They deliberated for just under three hours.

The Suffolk-born star had previously threatened to quit music if he lost the case, but speaking outside court on Thursday, he said: "it looks like I’m not going to have to retire from my day job after all."

Did Ed Sheeran rip off Marvin Gaye? What's at stake in this week's trial

Marvin Gaye Credit: AP

When the jury delivered their verdict, the Shape of You singer briefly put his hands over his face in relief before standing and hugging his lawyer.

It comes just one day after the singer was forced to miss the funeral of his own grandmother due to being stateside for the trial, though he reportedly watched it via livestream.

Speaking after the court, he criticised the proceedings in relation to this, saying, "I won’t get that time back".At the start of the two-week trial, lawyer Ben Crump told jurors on behalf of the Townsend heirs that Sheeran himself sometimes performed the two songs together.

The jury was shown a video of a concert in Switzerland in which Sheeran can be heard on stage blending 'Let's Get It On' and 'Thinking Out Loud'.

Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud'

Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get it On'

When Sheeran testified, he repeatedly picked up a guitar resting behind him on the witness stand to demonstrate how he seamlessly creates “mashups” of songs during concerts to “spice it up a bit” for his sizeable crowds.

The singer insisted, sometimes angrily, that the trial was a threat to all musicians who create their own music.

“When you write songs, somebody comes after you,” Sheeran said during his testimony as he explained that the case was being closely watched by others in the industry.

He reportedly became frustrated at times, describing the testimony of one of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses as “criminal” and said that he found the entire case “really insulting”.

He insisted that he stole nothing from 'Let's Get it On' when he wrote his tune, saying, "I'd have to be an idiot to do that".

Ed Sheeran says he will not be a "piggy bank for someone to shake” as he speaks after winning the copyright court case

Sheeran's song, which came out in 2014, was a hit, winning a Grammy for Song of the Year. 

The 32-year-old, who described himself as “just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy”, slammed the copyright infringement claim.Speaking outside court in New York, he said: "I am absolutely frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.

“If the jury had decided this matter the other way we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters.

“We need to be able to write our original music and engage in independent creativity without worrying at every step on the way that said creativity will be wrongly called into question.”

He added “We need songwriters and the wider musical community to come together to celebrate and support creativity.

“These claims and the people who manipulate songwriters for their own gain need to be stopped so that the creative process can carry on and we can all get back to making music.”

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, centre, daughter of singer and songwriter Ed Townsend, speaks outside Manhattan's federal court. Credit: (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Townsend’s family brought the case against Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group, and his music publisher Sony Music Publishing, in 2017.

Their original complaint claimed Sheeran had infringed on their interest in Gaye’s song by copying its “harmonic progressions, melodic and rhythmic elements” – which they described as the “heart” of the track.

The family requested a preliminary and permanent injunction against any future recording, distribution or public performance of Thinking Out Loud.

During the trial Ben Crump, representing the Townsend family, had said the case was about “giving credit where credit is due”.

The verdict in the US trial follows a similar but separate copyright case that Sheeran faced in London last year over his 2017 hit Shape Of You.

Townsend, who also wrote the 1958 R&B doo-wop hit “For Your Love,” was a singer, songwriter and lawyer who died in 2003.

His daughter, Kathryn Townsend Griffin, who testified during the trial, said she thought Sheeran was “a great artist with a great future”.

She said she had hoped the lawsuit would not result in a trial, “but I have to protect my father's legacy”.

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