Ed Sheeran settles $20m 'Photograph' lawsuit

The British singer-songwriter has had several songs called into question for musical similarities of late...

Ed Sheeran settles $20m 'Photograph' lawsuit

Picture by: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire/PA Images

Ed Sheeran has settled a multi-million dollar copyright infringement lawsuit over his 2014 hit 'Photograph' out of court.

British songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard had sued the 'Shape of You' star for $20 million, claiming that his track bore a striking resemblance to a single they wrote for former X Factor winner Matt Cardle.

The suit claimed that the melody for 'Amazing', which made it to number 84 on the UK Singles Chart in 2012, had been lifted "verbatim" for 'Photograph', a single taken from Sheeran's second album x in 2015.

In the complaint lodged in the US last July, Harrington and Leonard had argued that the alleged infringement made up "nearly one half of 'Photograph', and raises this case to the unusual level of strikingly similar copying".

They accused Sheeran and songwriter partner Johnny McDaid – who is also a member of Snow Patrol – of copying and exploiting "without authorisation or credit, the work of other active, professional songwriters on a breathtaking scale".

The pair's lawyer Richard Busch confirmed an agreement had been reached, telling Sky News:

"I can confirm the case has settled but cannot comment further."

Busch previously represented the family of Marvin Gaye in a well-publicised copyright case in 2015. The family successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their single of 'Blurred Lines', winning a $7.4m settlement for its similarities to Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up'.

With the conclusion of the 'Photograph' case, Sheeran's legal attentions will ironically turn to another lawsuit concerning the late soul icon's work.

Sheeran is primed to defend himself over allegations that his 'Thinking Out Loud', another x single which topped the UK Singles Chart and won a 'Song of the Year' at the 2016 Grammys, copied the core elements of Marvin Gaye classic 'Let's Get It On'. Heirs of 'Let's Get It On' co-writer Ed Townsend are pursuing this particular case.

The sources of Sheeran's musical inspiration continue to be a contentious issue – last month it was reported that the songwriters behind TLC's 1999 hit 'No Scrubs' had been given writing credits on Sheeran's 'Shape of You', which topped charts on both sides of the Atlantic this year.

Tameka Cottle, who wrote the song along with Kandi Burruss and Kevin Briggs, confirmed the news on Instagram.

Additional reporting by IRN