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Ed Sheeran sued over Gaye copying claim – again

Two frequent fliers in copyright claims have finally collided: Ed Sheeran is facing a copyright claim over alleged misuse of a Marvin Gaye song. Sheeran has faced several claims in the past, and only this year rights holders in Gaye’s works brought a claim against Robin Thicke.

On this occasion it is claimed that Gaye’s classic ‘Let’s Get It On’ is infringed by Sheeran’s 2014 hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

Structured Asset Sales (“SAS”), a company that owns a third of the copyright in Gaye’s 1973 song, has filed the claim at the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The claim is that the song copies “the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping”. SAS is seeking an eyewatering $100m (£76.4m) in damages.

Gaye co-wrote ‘Let’s Get It On’ with US singer Edward Townsend who passed away in 2003. Sheeran is not the only defendant in the claim: SAS has also included Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the Atlantic record label and the song’s co-writer Amy Wadge.

The same claim has actually been made before, when the family of Mr Townsend pursued Sheeran in 2017. At that time US district judge Richard J. Sullivan dismissed the family’s case “without prejudice”, which means that the same claim on the same facts can be brought again. It now has been.

“Thinking Out Loud” was a worldwide hit, and topped the UK singles’ chart and peaked at number two in the US. The album has sold over 15 million copies and was nominated for a Grammy in 2015.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.