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Ed Sheeran takes stand in US court for copyright trial over Marvin Gaye“s “Let“s Get It On“

2023-04-25T19:59:10Z

Ed Sheeran took the stand in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday at the beginning of a copyright trial alleging the British pop star’s hit song “Thinking Out Loud” ripped off the classic Marvin Gaye tune “Let’s Get it On”.

Heirs of songwriter Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the 1973 hit, allege Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group and music publisher Sony Music Publishing owe them a share of the profits for allegedly copying the song.

The trial is the first of three Sheeran could face from lawsuits over similarities between the two hits.

Under questioning from Keisha Rice, a lawyer for the heirs, Sheeran was asked about a song of his, “Take It Back,” which contains the lyric “plagiarism is hidden.”

“Those are my lyrics, yep,” said Sheeran, wearing a black suit and light blue tie. “Can I give some context to them?”

Rice said if she needed more context, she would ask. She then asked Sheeran about a video clip of a show in which he performed Gaye’s song live as a medley with “Thinking Out Loud.” Ben Crump, another lawyer for the heirs, had earlier said the performance amounted to a confession by Sheeran.

Sheeran said he sometimes mashed up songs with similar chords at his gigs, but grew frustrated when Rice cut off his response.

“I feel like you don’t want me to answer because you know that what I’m going to say is actually going to make quite a lot of sense,” he said.

Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, earlier said the two songs are distinct and told jurors that the plaintiffs should not be allowed to “monopolize” a chord progression and melody that are used in countless songs.

“No one owns basic musical building blocks,” Farkas said.

If the jury finds Sheeran liable for copyright infringement, the trial will enter a second phase to determine how much he and his labels owe in damages. The first trial is expected to last about a week.

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Singer Ed Sheeran arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for his copyright trial in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Singer Ed Sheeran arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for his copyright trial in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Singer Ed Sheeran arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for his copyright trial in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, daughter of Ed Townsend, Marvin Gaye’s co-writer “Let’s Get It On” speaks outside the Manhattan Federal Cour before the start of the copyright trial against singer Ed Sheeran in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, daughter of Ed Townsend, Marvin Gaye’s co-writer “Let’s Get It On” arrives at Manhattan Federal Cour for the start of the copyright trial against singer Ed Sheeran in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid