On Thursday, a jury deliberated for three hours and found musician Ed Sheeran not guilty of copying Marvin Gaye’s 1973 composition, “Let’s Get It On” when writing his 2014 song, “Thinking Out Loud.” It was a unanimous decision—a requirement for this particular copyright case.
The 32-year-old British singer previously announced that if he were found guilty, he would quit his music career.
More Similarities with Van Morrison Tunes
Sheeran, along with the song’s co-writer Amy Wadge, told the court that their song had more in common with Van Morrison songs like “Crazy Love” and “Tupelo Honey,” demonstrating this by playing the compositions.
Wadge, in her court testimony, said that when Sheeran had written ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and was playing it to her on the phone, they both felt that it had the same feel as a Van Morrison composition.
Four-Chord Progression Not Protected by Copyright Law
Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, further argued that the four-chord progression used in both the Sheeran and Marvin Gaye songs was very basic and that no songwriter owns the basic “musical building blocks.”
In an earlier court filing, the musician’s legal team wrote that the two songs in question shared their own versions of that similar chord progression and that it was not protected by copyright law and was available for all songwriters to use as they wished.
Sheeran’s Prior Copyright Infringement Lawsuits and Reaction
Sheeran has been accused of copyright violations before. One previous case reached an out-of-court settlement, while he was victorious in the other. The British singer-songwriter has been vocal in his opposition to copyright infringement lawsuits of this kind, believing that it’s damaging to the songwriting profession. In a video shared on his Instagram account, he maintained that since tens of thousands of songs are released daily on Spotify, with 22 million new titles every year, there are bound to be coincidences, as there are just so many notes and chords available in popular music.