What felt like a double danger turned into a double payoff. Ed Sheeran, as the pop superstar prevailed in a second copyright infringement lawsuit over the song “Thinking Out Loud.” The same judge who heard the previous case dismissed this additional case Tuesday before it even went to court.
This like-minded lawsuit was filed by Structured Asset Sales LLC, another party involved in the 1973 Marvin Gaye hit “Let’s Get It On,” similarly claiming that Sheeran’s 2014 hit infringed the previous song’s copyright. The company owns some of songwriter Ed Townsend’s stake in the melody of Gaye; It was Townsend’s heirs who filed the previous unsuccessful lawsuit. The result was pretty much the same, with or without trial, with the elements shared by the two tunes considered “common”.
In dismissing the Structured Asset Sales lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton wrote: “It is an indisputable fact that the chord progression and harmonic rhythm in ‘Let’s Get It On’, singly and in combination, are so pervasive to preserve their combinations. ‘Let’s Get It On’ It would have given ‘ an unacceptable monopoly on a fundamental musical building block.
Stanton had previously decided that the Structured Asset Sales case should be heard by a jury, but stepped back in dismissing the case on Tuesday, possibly influenced by the speed with which the jury found Sheeran liable in the previous case. Negotiation hours on May 4.
Reuters reported Sheeran isn’t sure about the “Thinking Out Loud” court cases yet, but Structured Asset Sales still has one more lawsuit pending in the court system regarding the controversial song.
In this third case, Structured Asset Sales seeks to compare the compositions with the recordings of “Thinking Out Loud”. In the case just heard by a jury, the two records weren’t played in court because the case technically came down to how the songs were compared as sheet music – not “feel”.
Structured Asset Sales is owned by investment banker David Pullman, famous for his “Bowie Bonds”. Five years ago, several years after the Townsend heirs filed separate lawsuits, Sheeran sued Warner Music Group and Sony Music Publishing. Pullman told Reuters he believes having the “Let’s Get Started” and “Thinking Loud” recordings played in court will make a difference to the jury in this third and (maybe?) final case: “Their biggest fear was that the terms of everything they filed were preventing the audio recording from coming in,” said the banker. .
One interview with Variation Sheeran’s defense, Pryor Cashman’s lead attorney, Ilene Farkas, said after the jury’s verdict in the previous case earlier this month, “She was absolutely blown away by the verdict. He feels right, but he feels right for all songwriters, not just himself. There were many, many, many songwriters reaching out to support what he was doing during this trial, and he felt an enormous obligation because of it. It’s a big load on your shoulders. There were dozens and dozens of foreigners reaching out to us. Ionly songwriters and musicology professors and music consumers who all support Ed and the potential impact of this case on songwriting.
Farkas reiterated that Sheeran felt it was important to take these cases to court if necessary and not give up and settle cases quietly, as many songwriters have done in the past. “As he said in his statement, this must be stopped. I think he meant those words.”