Ed Sheeran Wins “Thinking Out Loud” Copyright Case

A jury found today that Ed Sheeran did not wrongfully copy Marvin Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get It On” with his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud.”

The jury reached a unanimous verdict after just under three hours of deliberations.

The lawsuit was brought by the heirs of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the Motown classic. The suit alleged that the syncopated chord pattern of Sheeran’s song, which is noticeably similar to the 1973 tune, is the beating “heart” of “Let’s Get It On.”

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The New York Times reported that, after the verdict was rendered, the singer approached Kathryn Griffin Townsend, Mr. Townsend’s daughter, and spoke briefly with her.

Sheeran read a statement outside the courtroom, saying in part:

“”I’m obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I’m not having to retire from my day job after all. … 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. These chords are common building blocks which were 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 the way they are played, in the same way nobody owns the color blue.”

Watch him read his full statement below.

Last year, Sheeran prevailed in another copyright suit where it was alleged the singer-songwriter’s megahit “The Shape of You” plagiarized the 2015 song “Oh Why” by Sami Chokri.

The “Let’s Get It On” case follows another high-profile lawsuit by Gaye’s estate, in which Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay more than $5 million in 2018 after a court found that Thicke’s global smash “Blurred Lines” copied Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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