A jury is set to decide if British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On when he created his smash single Thinking Out Loud.
The 27 year-old’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected on Thursday, January 3 when district Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide Sheeran’s liability.
Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements.”
He further ruled that it was disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of Let’s Get It On was too common to deserve copyright protection.
The action was brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.
The classic track hit number one in 1973 while Thinking Out Loud topped the UK single charts in 2014.
The defense has argued that the newer track was characterized by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love,” while Let’s Get It On was a “sexual anthem.”
However, the Judge said there were similarities in the bass lines and percussion of the two songs and stated that listeners might consider both hits as having the same “aesthetic appeal.”
Sheeran denies copying Gaye.
Not the first time
The accusation is not the first time that Sheeran has been accused of copying other artists.
In 2017, the star settled a $20 million copyright infringement claim over his song Photograph. He was sued in 2016 by songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who claimed that his hit ballad had a similar structure to their song Amazing.
Another instance in 2017 also saw the team behind TLC’s 1999 single No Scrubs given writing credits on Sheeran’s Shape of You, after comparisons were made between elements of the songs.
Judge Stanton is presiding over another lawsuit alleging Sheeran copied Let’s Get It On. Structured Asset Sales (SAS)—which owns a third of Townsend’s estate—are suing for $100 million.
They claim he copied the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of the song.
History repeats itself
In 2013, the Motown legend’s family claimed that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.
The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties.