Jun 14, 2016

Not a Pretty Picture for Ed Sheeran in Copyright Infringement Claim

British singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran has been hit with a $20 million (£13.8 million) copyright infringement suit by two California-based musicians, in a dispute centering on his hit song 'Photograph'.

In a complaint filed in California on 8 June 2016, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard said 'Photograph' had similar elements to their track 'Amazing'.  In court documents that include musical note comparison and chord breakdowns of the two songs, Harrington and Leonard claim the chorus of Sheeran's song shares 39 identical notes with 'Amazing', saying that the "…similarities are instantly recognisable to the ordinary observer."

The song 'Photograph' was included in Sheeran's album "X" which was released in the US in 2014 and was released as a single a year later.

Harrington and Leonard, who own music company HaloSongs, claim to have written 'Amazing' in 2009. The pair have said that Sheeran, "…copied and exploited, without authorisation or credit, the work of other active, professional songwriters, on a breath-taking scale."

'Amazing' was performed by singer Matt Cardle, the winner of the 2010 series of UK talent show The X Factor in 2011. The songwriters claim $20 million in damages and trial by way of jury. It has just over 1 million views on YouTube to date, while Sheeran's music video for Photograph has 208 million views.

Johnny McDaid, a member of UK band Snow Patrol, who is credited as a co-writer of the song 'Photograph', Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner Music Group and its subsidiary, Atlantic Recording Corporation have all been named as defendants.

Harrington and Leonard, who have also written songs for Kylie Minogue and Emma Bunton, will seek statutory damages and either a stake in royalties or an injunction. They will be represented by Richard Busch, the same attorney who won the copyright infringement case against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams on behalf of Marvin Gaye's family last year. The singers were ordered to pay £5.3 million for copying Gaye's 1977 song 'Got to Give It Up' for their 2013 summer hit 'Blurred Lines'.  We previously reported on the Thicke/Williams/Gaye case last year.

in: Copyright, News

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