Take a quarter cup of your feelings, half a cup of emotions expressed in words, and a full glass of melody that reflects your state of mind– and you get a song that narrates your story.
Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, BTS, Sam Smith, George Ezra, Adele, Sia, and several others have established a dedicated fanbase since they write their own songs which give a glimpse of their personal lives.
Ed Sheeran is one such songwriter who is known to evoke a ‘pure love’ sentiment with his songs. The ‘Perfect’ songwriter has always been transparent in his song-making process. No wonder the song became an anthem for ‘walking down the aisle.’
However, his artistry has always been susceptible to scrutiny and allegations. Here’s why Ed Sheeran made it to the headlines this time–
Ed Sheeran’s Copyright Lawsuit Explained
Back in 2017, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the ‘Thinking out loud’ singer. The petition stated that the Grammy Award-winning song has striking similarities to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s get it on.’
Gaye’s song, released in 1973, was radio-favorite for several years. The song is still played in several movies as BGM to indicate an intimate scene. This song has ‘sexy jam’ undertones.
However, to clarify the fact– this lawsuit was not filed by Late Marvin Gaye’s family. The plaintiffs are the heirs to Ed Townsend, who was the song’s co-writer. They have filed a case under the copyright act against Ed Sheeran, label Warner Music, and Sony Music Publishing, claiming that several elements were copied.
On the flip side of the case, ‘Thinking out Loud’ actually has the themes of love and marriage as subtext. Ed Sheeran has mentioned that he came up with the idea with co-writer Amy Wadge after the death of his grandfather. He clarifies in the court that unlike ‘Let’s get it on,’ his 2014 hit song ‘thinking out loud’ is about finding love in old age and has romantic undertones.
Difference Between Copyright and Sampling
Here is the major glitch in the lawsuit– there is a very fine line between sampling and copyright infringement. These are some of the guidelines under the American Fair Use Law–
The sample used must not exceed 30 seconds, or in case the song is longer, then 10% of the length of the original song can be used. The sample used must be faded, reverbed, or of reduced quality than the original piece.
Going by these, here are the two songs. Can you see the “striking similarities” as claimed in the lawsuit?
To get an expert ear on this, watch the video below to judge these two songs.
According to Rick Beato, the tempo, groove, and instrumentation are pretty similar, but the melodies in the two songs are completely different. His note-by-note comparison and overall vibes distinguish the two songs.
Court’s Final Verdict on Ed Sheeran’s Case
As per the final verdict, Ed Sheeran was unanimously declared not guilty by the jury. They stated that he was not liable for the copyright infringement claim by Townsend’s heirs. Sheeran even whipped out his guitar on the stand to show how the musicologist on the plaintiff’s side had ‘misrepresented’ his song. Finally, he is set free from the $100 million lawsuit.
Previous Copyright Lawsuits Against Ed Sheeran
This is not his first time being accused of ‘theft’ in songs. He was previously sued for copying allegations on the global hit ‘Shape of You.’
Also, in 2015, Marvin Gaye’s family won a lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharell William’s “Blurred Lines” for more than $5 million in compensation to Gaye’s family. The jury concluded that the song violated copyright infringement laws from Gaye’s hit song “Got to Give it Up.”
Check out another celebrity facing – A whopping $3 Billion lawsuit.
What are your thoughts on this case? Do you think it was unfair for Ed Sheeran to be questioned for his songwriting?
What other songs do you think have a striking resemblance? Let us know in the comments below.