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Ed Sheeran wins ‘Let’s Get It On’ copyright infringement case for ‘Thinking Out Loud’

Ed Sheeran and his team leaves court after testifying on April 26, 2023, in New York. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS)

A New York jury sided with Ed Sheeran on Thursday, finding that he did not plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s classic song “Let’s Get It On.”

The trial concluded after a jury first met on April 24. Gaye collaborator Ed Townsend’s family sued the “Shape of You” singer for copyright infringement in 2016, claiming that his “Thinking Out Loud” stole “the heart” from Gaye’s song by using “melodic, harmonic and rhythmic compositions” that are “substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition” to Gaye’s sensual number.

On the third day of the weeklong trial, the plaintiff’s legal team presented the jury with a video of Sheeran performing a mashup of “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let’s Get It On” in concert. While attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Townsend family, called the clip “a smoking gun,” Sheeran denied he stole any musical element from Gaye.

The singer also reportedly got heated during the trial and sparred with Keisha Rice, another attorney who represented the Townsend family.

According to the Associated Press, Sheeran picked up his guitar on the fourth day of the trial and performed a few words from “Thinking Out Loud.” At the behest of his lawyer Ilene Farkas, Sheeran explained the writing process behind the song.

He said writing a song was second nature, and he “used his own version of phonetics” to quickly create songs. After giving a sample of his singing, Sheeran said “and then words fall in.”

Then he turned to the jury and said, “I’m not the world’s most talented guitar player.”

On Monday the singer made a dramatic vow from the witness stand.

While he was testifying, Farkas asked what would happen if the plaintiffs win ownership over the chord progression in question.

“If that happens, I’m done — I’m stopping,” said Sheeran, 32, appearing to vow he would quit music if he loses, according to the New York Post. “I find it really insulting to work my whole life as a singer-songwriter and diminish it.”

After Thursday’s verdict, it seems that won’t be happening anytime soon. He will release his new album “Subtract” on Friday.

Amid the legal battle, Sheeran also announced that he’ll be hitting the road soon. On social media the singer revealed that his Subtract tour will launch May 19 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.


(L.A. Times staff writers Christi Carras and Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.)


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