Ed Sheeran Denies ‘Smoking Gun’ Evidence in Marvin Gaye Copyright Case
Ed Sheeran took the stand on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court to deny his song “Thinking Out Loud” copied Marvin Gaye’s hit “Let’s Get It On.”
The Guardian reports a 2017 lawsuit brought by the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend accuses Sheeran and co-writer Amy Wadge of copyright infringement for allegedly copying a chord progression and the song’s rhythm.
During opening statements, Page Six reports the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ben Crump told the court, “In this case, we have a smoking gun: Mr. Ed Sheeran himself in concert merged ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and ‘Let’s Get it On.’”
Crump called the mash up Sheeran’s “confession,” and also claimed Sheeran “recognized the magic” of “Let’s Get It On” and “decided to capture a bit of that magic for his own benefit.”
During his testimony, Sheeran insisted, “If I had done what you are accusing me of doing, I would be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.”
Sheeran also claimed combining songs during a show was nothing new, stating, “I mash up songs at a lot of gigs.”
At one point the Grammy winner explained that many pop songs follow a common chord progression, and insisted, “When you’re playing a song live and it fits in the same key, most pop songs revolve in the same three or four chords.”
According to The Guardian, his lawyer Ilene Farkas insisted the plaintiffs “cannot own these common musical elements… No one owns basic musical building blocks.”
Page Six reports she also drove the point home, stating, “[Everyone from] Buddy Holly to the Beach Boys to the Bee Gees to Elton John… have used this chord progression before Ed Townsend,” insisting the progression is taught in how-to-play piano books, including at least one that was published before the release of “Let’s Get It On.”
The trial continues this week in NYC. Sheeran’s co-writer Amy Wadge is expected to testify.