A New York federal jury concluded Thursday that British singer Ed Sheeran did not steal essential elements of Marvin Gaye’s classic 1970s tune “Let’s Get It On” when he created his hit song. that “Thinking Out Loud.”
As the jury answered a question about whether Sheeran proved he had not infringed copyright in the affirmative, the crooner briefly put his hands over his face in relief before standing up and hugging his lawyer.
As the jurors left the courtroom, Sheeran quietly said “thank you” in their direction. He then spoke for about 10 minutes to the complainants, including the daughter of Ed Townsend, who co-created the 1973 soul classic with Gaye. They hugged and smiled at each other.
Sheeran later spoke to reporters outside court.
“Obviously I’m very happy with the outcome of this case, and it seems like I don’t have to retire from my day job, after all. But at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all,” the singer read from a prepared statement.
He also said he missed his grandmother’s funeral in Ireland because of the trial, and that he “can’t turn back time.”
The verdict came after a two-week trial that featured a courtroom performance by Sheeran as the singer insisted, at times angrily, that the trial was a threat to all self-made musicians. that music.
Sheeran sat with his legal team throughout the trial, defending himself against a lawsuit by Townsend’s heirs. They said that “Thinking Out Loud” had so many similarities to “Let’s Get It On” that it violated the song’s copyright protection.
At the start of the trial, attorney Ben Crump told jurors on behalf of Townsend’s heirs that Sheeran himself sometimes performed the two songs together. The jury saw video of a concert in Switzerland where Sheeran can be heard segueing on stage between “Let’s Get It On” and “Thinking Out Loud.” Crump said the “smoking gun” was proof that he stole from the popular tune.
When Sheeran testified, he repeatedly picked up a guitar that lay behind him on the witness stand to show how he creates “mashups” of songs during concerts to “make it smaller” for his many people.
The cheerful attitude of the English pop star shown under questioning by his lawyer, Ilene Farkas, all but disappeared under cross examination.
“When you write songs, somebody comes after you,” said Sheeran during his testimony as he explained that the case is closely watched by others in the industry.
He insists that he didn’t steal anything from “Let’s Get It On” when he wrote his tune.
Townsend’s heirs said in their lawsuit that “Thinking Out Loud” has “striking similarities” and “overt common elements” that make it clear that it copied “Let’s Get It On,” a song featured in several films. and commercial and has scored hundreds of millions of stream spins and radio plays over the past half century.
Sheeran’s song, which came out in 2014, was a hit, winning a Grammy for song of the year. His lawyers argued that the songs shared versions of the same and non-protectable chord progressions that were freely available to all songwriters.
Gaye was killed in 1984 at the age of 44, shot by his father as he tried to intervene in a fight between his parents. He has been a Motown superstar since the 1960s, although his songs released in the 1970s made him a generational musical giant.
Townsend, who also wrote the 1958 R&B doo-wop hit “For Your Love,” was a singer, songwriter and lawyer who died in 2003. Kathryn Townsend Griffin, his daughter, testified during the settled that he believes Sheeran “is a great artist. with a good future.”
He said he hoped the lawsuit would not result in a trial, “but I had to protect my father’s legacy.”