British singer and songwriter, Ed Sheeran will face trial in the US over claims he copied his 2014 hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’ from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic ‘Let’s Get It On’.
U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan denied Sheeran’s bid to dismiss the copyright infringement suit, saying a jury should decide on whether the two songs are substantially similar.
The move comes after Sheeran, 31, and his co-songwriters were awarded more than £900,000 in legal costs in June after winning their UK High Court copyright trial over the hit Shape of Year in March.
After that ruling six months ago, Sheeran lashed out at the ‘baseless claims’ being brought against singer-songwriters.
On Thursday, Judge Stanton said that Sheeran must now face trial in the US amid claims Thinking Out Loud is copied from Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.
The copyright infringement suit was originally lodged in 2018 – not by Gaye’s family, but by Structured Asset Sales LLC, which owns a portion of ‘Let’s Get It On’ co-writer Ed Townsend’s estate.
Structured Asset Sales (SAS) is seeking $100million in damages while alleging Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge ‘copied and exploited, without authorization or credit’ the Gaye song, ‘including but not limited to the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping’.
Gaye co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Edward Townsend, an American singer and songwriter who died in 2003.
They released the song in June 1973 and it hit No.1 in September that year. More than 10 years later, Gaye was shot and killed by his father, Marvin Gay Senior – whose surname is spelt differently – at their house in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, after an argument on 1 April, 1984, on the eve of his 45th birthday.
On Thursday September 29, Judge Stanton said a jury must decide whether the two songs are substantially similar because music experts on both sides of the dispute disagree whether Sheeran’s song mimics ‘Let’s Get It On.’
‘Although the two musical compositions are not identical, a jury could find that the overlap between the songs’ combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm is very close,’ Stanton said.
An attorney for Structured Asset Sales, Hillel Parness, told Reuters the company is ‘pleased’ with the ruling.