Ed Sheeran's Musical Victory: Second Lawsuit Over 'Thinking out Loud' vs. 'Let's Get It on' Dismissed

The lawsuit alleged similarities between Sheeran's chart-topping hit "Thinking Out Loud" and Marvin Gaye's iconic track "Let's Get It On."

In a noteworthy legal triumph, renowned British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran emerged victorious in federal court in Manhattan as he thwarted a second copyright lawsuit. The lawsuit centred around alleged similarities between Sheeran's popular hit "Thinking Out Loud" and Marvin Gaye's timeless masterpiece, "Let's Get It On."

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton made a significant ruling by dismissing the copyright case filed by Structured Asset Sales LLC. Judge Stanton determined that the elements of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" that Ed Sheeran was accused of infringing were too commonplace to be eligible for copyright protection.

Jury clears copyright infringement

Earlier this month, Ed Sheeran achieved victory in a distinct jury trial pertaining to the songs in the same court. Presiding over both cases, Judge Stanton oversaw the legal proceedings surrounding the share of Gaye's 1973 classic held by co-writer Ed Townsend. Despite the efforts of Townsend's heirs, the jurors remained unconvinced that Sheeran had infringed upon their portion of Townsend's copyright within the song.

In 2018, Structured Asset Sales, owned by David Pullman, an investment banker and creator of "Bowie Bonds," initiated a lawsuit against Ed Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group, and his music publisher Sony Music Publishing. This legal action came in response to a lawsuit filed by the heirs of Ed Townsend. Structured Asset Sales, holding a portion of Townsend's stake in "Let's Get It On," pursued legal action against Sheeran and the aforementioned entities.

Court ruling sets precedent in copyright protection

On Tuesday, Judge Stanton concluded that the particular combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm featured in Marvin Gaye's song was considered a fundamental and commonplace element in music composition. As a result, Stanton determined that it did not meet the threshold for copyright protection.

In response to the ruling, Ed Sheeran's attorney, Ilene Farkas, expressed that the decision held significant importance, not only for Sheeran and his collaborator Amy Wadge, but also for the broader community of songwriters and music enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Structured Asset Sales, still holding rights to Gaye's recording, has filed an additional lawsuit against Sheeran, which remains pending.

Key testimony

According to Reuters, Pullman stated that the jury in the aforementioned case would have the opportunity to listen to the actual recording of "Let's Get It On," instead of relying on the computer-generated interpretation of the song's sheet music presented during the Townsend trial.

Highlighting the significance of this development, Pullman expressed, "Their primary concern throughout all their legal filings has been to exclude the sound recording from being presented as evidence."