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Ed Sheeran Victorious in Landmark Copyright Case

On May 4, 2023, a jury found Ed Sheeran, hit making pop artist, not guilty of copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" in Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" hit song. The bulk of the similarity between the two songs focused on a syncopated chord pattern. Sheeran - guitar in hand - testified as to how he and his collaborator created the song and how many pop songs can be overlayed on each other due to commonplace foundational elements of the pop genre. Sheeran and his legal team agreed with the plaintiff that the chord patterns of the two songs are similar, but are simply common musical building blocks found in many different songs, which does not rise to the level of copyrightable material. The jury agreed that Sheeran created his song independently from the Gaye song.

This case maintains the status quo when it comes to copyright in music and provides some assurances to songwriters - copyright over the original, creative features of a work are protected, but any foundational building blocks of music are not. 

A federal jury found on Thursday that the pop singer Ed Sheeran did not copy Marvin Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get It On” for his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud,” in the music industry’s highest-profile copyright case in years.


copyright, music law, ed sheeran, ip