29 June 2018Copyright

Ed Sheeran hit with $100m suit over Marvin Gaye song

UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has been accused of copying parts of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit song “ Let’s Get It On”.

US-based Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which part-owns the copyright for “Let’s Get It On”, sued Sheeran at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York yesterday, June 28.

SAS alleged that Sheeran’s 2014 song “Thinking Out Loud” copied various elements of “Let’s Get It On”. These elements include the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, and tempo.

“The harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic elements of composition in ‘Let's Get It On’ have made this song one of the most famous songs in R&B and soul and popular music history,” said the claim.

SAS alleged that the two songs have a distinctive combination of musical materials. It said that the songs’ backing patterns—a combination of instruments and the vocal line—are a major element in each song.

The intro to “Let’s Get It On” begins with an “iconic melody”, harmony and rhythm that SAS claimed is recognised around the world.

Sheeran has even been recorded performing the songs as a ‘mash-up’, moving from one song to the other, said SAS.

It added: “Sheeran transitioned seamlessly between the lyrics of the two songs without changing the notes, tempo, rhythm or any other elements.”

Other defendants include Sheeran’s record label, Gingerbread Man Records, and Amy Wadge, who co-owns the song “ Thinking Out Loud”. SAS alleged that the defendants were notified of the infringement in 2015.

In January this year, Sheeran, alongside country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, was caught up in a $5 million copyright infringement suit over the song “The Rest Of Our Life”.

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More on this story

11 April 2017   A district judge has dismissed a copyright claim brought by two US musicians over singer Ed Sheeran’s hit “Photograph”.
4 January 2019   A US judge has rejected Ed Sheeran’s request to dismiss a lawsuit which accuses him of copying parts of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On”.
5 May 2023   Musician rails against “baseless claims”, emphasising that certain chords are part of every “songwriter’s toolkit” | Case marks the second time that Sheeran has beaten back copyright claims.