Ed Sheeran sued for "knowingly and intentionally" ripping off Marvin Gaye song

The family of the co-writer of 'Let's Get It On' claims Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' is an abuse of their copyright

Ed Sheeran, Photograph, Marvin Gaye, Ed Townsend, Let's Get It On

Ed Sheeran accepts the award for song of the year for Thinking Out Loud at the 58th annual Grammy Awards [Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]

A year and a half after the jury in a Los Angeles courtroom decided that Pharell Williams and Robin Thicke’s song Blurred Lines had indeed ripped off the late Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up, once again another singer-songwriter is accused of blurring the musical lines on another of Gaye’s song. This time round, it’s British rock star Ed Sheeran’s Grammy-winning hit Thinking Out Loud being accused of taking more than inspiration for the 1973 hit Let’s Get It On.

This time, the lawsuit was filed by the family of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye. The executors of Townsend estate, responsible for his musical rights since his death in 2003, filed their suit in a New York district court yesterday, accusing Sheeran of plagiarising the “melodic, harmonic and rhythmic compositions” of the song in Thinking Out Loud, which spent a year in the top 40 of the UK singles charts.

“The defendants copied the ‘heart’ of Let’s and repeated it continuously throughout Thinking,” the lawsuit claims. The legal documents claim that Sheeran and the others named in the case, including Atlantic Records, were made aware of the perceived infringements on Gaye and Townsend’s song in April 2015, but “knowingly and intentionally infringed plaintiffs’ rights.”

This is not the first time Ed Sheeran has been accused of ripping off other songs this summer; in June, the writers of a song released by the British X-Factor winner Matt Cardle filed a $20m (€17.9m) suit against him, claiming Sheeran “exploited” their work on a “breathtaking scale” for his 2015 song Photograph.

Both Photograph and Thinking Out Loud appear on Sheeran’s multi-million selling album X, which debuted at number one on the UK album charts and was the fastest-selling album of 2014. The album sold 4.4m copies in 2014 and a further 3.5m the following year.

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