Ed Sheeran has defended his songwriting in a New York court following allegations that he plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On for his own smash ballad titled Thinking Out Loud. The allegations were made after it was claimed that Ed Sheeran wrote Thinking Out Loud.
The heirs of Ed Townsend, who collaborated with Marvin Gaye on the song “Let’s Get It On,” are the plaintiffs in the legal action, which was initially submitted in 2017. It asserts that Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge plagiarised a rising four-chord sequence as well as its rhythm.
Sheeran testified in person on Tuesday that he and Wadge wrote Thinking Out Loud during a session of collaborative writing inspired by the love that was shared between his grandparents. Sheeran was motivated to write the song by the affection that was shared between his grandparents.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the plaintiffs who has previously represented the family of George Floyd, said that a video of Sheeran doing a live mashup of Thinking Out Loud with Let’s Get It On constituted “a confession” of plagiarism. Crump has previously represented the family of George Floyd.
In a later statement, Sheeran argued that “most pop songs can fit over most pop tracks… You may switch from Let It Be to No Woman, No Cry and back again,” with the latter phrase referring to songs performed respectively by the Beatles and Bob Marley.
Sheeran became defensive at various points during the line of inquiry, declaring at one point: “If I had 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.” When his line of questioning was cut off by the attorney Keisha Rice, he stated, “I feel like you don’t want me to answer because you know that what I’m going to say is actually going to make quite a lot of sense.”
Ilene S. Farkas, his attorney, argued before the court that the plaintiffs “cannot own these common musical components… Nobody possesses the fundamental musical building pieces.” Sheeran’s legal team said in a previous written filing that “the two songs share versions of a similar and unprotectable chord progression that was freely available to all songwriters.”
As a testimony, Townsend’s daughter Kathryn Gryphon Townsend said that she wanted to “protect my father’s legacy.” However, she also stated that she had unwillingly pushed the case forward and referred to Sheeran as “a great artist with a great future.” Sheeran was a defendant in the case.
A musicologist who was hired by the plaintiffs has stated that the chords in each song are “virtually interchangeable,” despite the fact that there are some minor differences between them. A musicologist who works for Sheeran has stated that the chord sequence is not original, and they have provided multiple additional examples of the chord sequence being used in songs by other artists, such as Donovan and the Seekers.