Ed Sheeran has won the copyright suit filed against him by the family of Marvin Gaye‘s songwriting collaborator, Ed Townsend.
The British singer was accused of copying parts of Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for his hit single “Thinking Out Loud.”
After emerging victorious, Sheeran told the press that such “baseless claims” would someday stifle the “creative freedom of songwriters.”
The win marks the second time Sheeran was found not guilty in a copyright suit within two years, as he previously won one filed against his hit single, “Shape of You.”
Keep on reading to learn more.
Ed Sheeran Found Not Guilty Of Ripping Off Marvin Gaye
Per Variety, a Manhattan federal court found Sheeran not guilty of plagiarizing essential parts of Gaye’s 1970s hit “Let’s Get It On” to create “Thinking Out Loud.”
The singer had been on trial for nearly two weeks and admitted to the press after the verdict that the disturbing incident left him “frustrated.”
“It looks like I’m not going to have to give up my day job after all,” Sheeran said, referencing his vow earlier in the week to quit his music career if he was found guilty.
He further explained that such “baseless claims” which led to the copyright suit shouldn’t be “allowed to go to court at all,” adding that unfavorable verdicts will stifle the “creative freedom of songwriters.”
The singer also voiced his sadness over missing his grandmother’s funeral, which was held on Wednesday in Ireland, saying he would never “get that time back.”
The Judge Asked The Jury To Make Their Decision Based On Facts
U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton presided over the copyright suit, admonishing the jury ahead of the deliberations that “Independent creation is a complete defense, no matter how similar that song is.”
He also told the jury members that the plaintiff lawyers needed to “prove by a preponderance of the evidence… that Sheeran actually copied and wrongfully copied ‘Let’s Get It On,'” seemingly pointing out to them that their decision shouldn’t be based on emotions but on facts.
Ultimately, the verdict was in Sheeran’s favor, marking the second copyright suit he has won in two years.
He had previously emerged victorious in a U.K. copyright battle that claimed he ripped off 2015’s “Oh Why” by Sami Chokri for his single “Shape of You.”
At the time, he also voiced his displeasure with the “culture of baseless lawsuits intended to squeeze money out of artists eager to avoid the expense of a trial.”
Ed Sheeran Vowed To Quit Music If He Was Found Guilty
If the jury in Gaye’s copyright case had ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Sheeran would be liable to pay $100 million in reparations. The exact amount, however, would have been established in a second trial.
Additionally, the decision might have led to fans no longer getting new music and live performances from Sheeran, as he had promised earlier in the week to quit his music career if he lost the case.
At the time, he also described the copyright allegations as “insulting” to the hard work he had put in for years to carve a niche in the music industry.
“If that happens, I’m done; I’m stopping,” Sheeran had told the press before the non-guilty verdict, per Daily Mail. “I find it insulting to devote my whole life to being a performer and a songwriter and have someone diminish it.”
Ed Sheeran Denies Ripping Of Marvin Gaye’s Song
During the trial, the singer did his best to refute the allegations and point out the weaknesses in some of the plaintiff’s arguments.
Part of his defense was to explain that “many songs have similar chords,” which made it easy to mash them up for his gigs, but it doesn’t indicate that he copied the songs.
He made the statement in the wake of the plaintiff’s lawyers submitting a video of him transitioning seamlessly between the two songs involved in the copyright suit, which they had used to argue that it proved the singer was guilty.
The “Shape of You” hitmaker said, “If I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.”
He also slammed the plaintiff’s expert witness, musicologist Alexander Stewart, accusing him of altering the evidence to suit his narrative.