emoticon wrapped Ed Sheeran A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed at the end of the court day Wednesday as the judge sent the Manhattan jury to deliberation with a meaningful warning: “No matter how similar the song is, independent creation is a complete defense.”
U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton’s instructions may have set a high bar in the jury’s head as to how much evidence the plaintiffs’ attorneys must build to prove that Sheeran and his co-author actually cheated. Marvin Gaye“Let’s Get It On” when they wrote the pop hit “Thinking Out Loud”.
According to this insidersStanton told jurors that lawyers for Gaye’s co-author Ed Townsend’s heirs had to “prove by a lot of evidence … that Sheeran did indeed copy ‘Let’s Get It On’ and misrepresented it”, as opposed to incidental. trivial similarities put forward by Sheeran’s lawyers.
Although it was past 5 pm, the judge asked the jurors to begin discussing the case immediately behind closed doors, saying “it’d be nice to have some deliberation” and reassured everyone involved that “we won’t go”. to spend the night.” The time the jurors spent together lasted less than an hour, and they were dismissed and asked to return Thursday morning.
In the closing arguments, Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, reverted to the opposing party’s claim that the singer’s concert mix of the two songs constituted a “smoldering gun” and “a confession.” According to rumors, Farkas New York Post“He did a mashup one night. Is this a plaintiff’s confession, their smoking gun?… Simply put: the plaintiff’s ‘smoking gun’ was blanks.”
“Not only do we have a smoking gun, but we also have bullets for this smoking gun,” said Ben Crump, the plaintiffs’ attorney, because both parties did their best to exhaust the metaphor entirely.
According to news sources, there were fun moments on the closing day of the statements. After Sheeran previously said in court that “Thinking Out Loud” sounded more like Van Morrison’s style than Gaye’s tune, the comparisons became less important as a debate broke out Thursday over a different song playing several versions. The courtroom: “Georgy Girl,” the fluffy 1960s movie.
A specialist musicologist summoned by Sheeran’s team to oppose someone previously brought in by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Dr. Lawrence Ferrara says “Georgy Girl” shares a similar chord progression and “anticipated” rhythm with both “Let’s Get It On” and “Let’s Get It On”. Thinking Aloud” while both came out years ago. To consolidate his scores, he played Muzak-style versions of the single performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra and 101 Strings Orchestra.
Ferrara also cites two more songs that share their contentious chord progressions: Contours’ early ’60s hit “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)” and a lesser-known cover of “Since I Lost It” by Temptations, Baby. “Townsend’s heirs’ attorney disagreed that if Ferrara had to resort to obscure records to file the case, progress should indeed be rare.
“Doesn’t that suggest that ‘Let’s Get Started’ is fairly new or unique?” asked lawyer Patrick R. Frank, in cross-examination with the musicologist, who said Ferrar had to go to “extreme lengths” to find similar songs to refer to. For fans of classic pop, “Georgy Girl” isn’t obscure, but still controversial, Ferrara said: “The important thing is that ‘LGO’ (‘Let’s Get It On’) didn’t do it first.”
Farkas before the case was left to the jury told the judges Similarities in chords or rhythms—compared to melody and lyrics—“were the letters of the alphabet of music … These are the basic musical building blocks that songwriters should be free to use now and forever, or we will all be poorer who love music.
Keisha Rice, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, in turn argued that the case hinges on “the unique way these common elements are brought together.”
Sheeran’s final return to the podium the day before would have had a chilling effect on all songwriters, possibly causing him to quit if the plaintiffs were victorious in their attempt to not only achieve a financial victory but also prevent him from playing the hit song again. “If that happens, I’m done—stopping,” he said.
Sheeran said at Tuesday’s hearing that he found the testimony of the Plaintiffs’ musicologist, Alexander Stewart, insufficient. “I think what he’s doing here is a crime,” the singer said.
In Wednesday’s closing speech, Crump told the jury not to be “fascinated” by the pop star and said his threats to quit the job if he lost were all courtroom play. “It’s just a threat to play with your emotions,” Crump said, adding that he “could promise not to do that,” according to the Post.
“Thinking Out Loud” won Grammy song of the year in 2016. Townsend’s heirs filed a copyright lawsuit about six months later; It didn’t go to court until early last week amid the pandemic and standard legal delays.