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Reading Festival 2022 - Day 2

Source: Joseph Okpako / Getty

A federal judge has refused to dismiss the case against Ed Sheeran for allegedly lifting elements from Marvin Gaye’s iconic, “Let’s Get It On,” for his 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud.” 

According to Billboard, Judge Louis Stanton said there is “no bright-line rule” for deciding if the combination of simple elements that Sheeran allegedly stole were not unique enough to be covered by the copyright of the iconic Gaye hit. The decision sets Sheeran up to face a jury in the case which was filed by an entity that owns a partial stake in the Gaye hit. 

The case was filed by a company called Structured Asset Sales which owns a one-third stake in the copyrights of Ed Townsend who co-wrote the hit song. David Pullman who owns the company told Billboard that he “looks forward to more success in this case which involves the largest copyright infringement in history.”

Per the report, attorneys for Sheeran declined to comment. 

His attorneys allege that there are chord progressions and harmonic rhythms in the song that are too commonplace to be protected. 

In Thursday’s ruling, Stanton said that is for a jury to decide, writing, “There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work,” the judge wrote “A work may be copyrightable even though it is entirely a compilation of unprotectable elements.”

In 2014, Sheeran himself toggled between “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Let’s Get It On,” during a concert to amuse the crowd. He has not addressed rumors that there are elements of the R&B staple in his song. 

This is not the first time that Sheeran faced claims that he lifted elements from Black artists for his pop hits. In 2017, he added TLC as songwriters to his hit single “Shape of You,” after comparisons between the song and the group’s classic, “No Scrubs.” Sheeran later admitted that the song used the melody. 

Ed Sheeran defeated a similar lawsuit in the U.K., which claimed that he stole other elements of “Shape of You.” 

In one of the most famous copyright cases involving Gaye’s music, his heirs successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over copied elements in “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up.” The heirs are not involved in the Sheeran lawsuit. 

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