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Jury Finds Ed Sheeran Did Not Plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
The decision around the 2014 Ed Sheeran hit “Thinking Out Loud” came after the jury debated for three hours.

Ed Sheeran is not guilty of copyright infringement, a New York jury ruled on Thursday.

The pop star was facing a plagiarism suit from Ed Townsend, who co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye. Townsend alleged Sheeran ripped the song off while writing his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud.”

The jury, however, determined that Sheeran created his Billboard success independently, making him not liable for copyright infringement.

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The trial lasted two weeks, and the jurors reached a verdict after three hours. Townsend first filed the civil suit in 2017, alleging that Sheeran, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Publishing violated federal copyright law.

“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,” Sheeran said in his testimony. “Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs … You could go from Let it Be to No Woman, No Cry and switch back.”

After hearing the verdict, Sheeran reportedly hugged his lawyers and his wife. “Thinking Out Loud” co-writer Amy Wadge was reportedly in tears.

“We spent the past eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies, and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day all over the world,” Sheeran read in a statement. “These chords are common building blocks used to create music long before “Let’s Get It On” was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone. They are in a songwriter’s alphabet, our toolkit, and should be there for all of us to use. No one owns them or how they are played; in the same way, nobody owns the color blue.”

“Thinking Out Loud” had significant success by setting the then-record for most streams of a song on Spotify, accumulating over 500 million streams in 2015. It was also No. 1 between July 5 and November 8, 2014. The 32-year-old scored Grammy wins for the song with Song of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance in 2016.

For what it’s worth, the lawsuit brought increased attention to both songs, leading to streaming gains for each in the past week.

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