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British Pop Star Ed Sheeran is Facing a $100 Million Dollar Copyright Lawsuit Over Hit Song ‘Thinking Out Loud’


According to reporting from Entertainment Tonight (ET), the holding company that owns the rights to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ has filed a $100 million copyright infringement lawsuit against pop star Ed Sheeran. In court documents, the company alleges that Mr. Sheeran copied and exploited key compositional elements of the famous 1970s song.

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach copyright litigation attorneys represent clients in a wide range of copyright law issues. Here, we provide an overview of the allegations being raised in the copyright claim against Ed Sheeran. Further, our dedicated copyright lawyers explain what the plaintiffs have to do in order to win this copyright infringement lawsuit.

The Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Ed Sheeran 

In the lawsuit filed in California, Structured Asset Sales, LLC, the company that owns the rights to ‘Let’s Get It On’, claims that Ed Sheeran copied the song in a number of different ways. Specifically, this plaintiff is alleging that Mr. Sheeran copied the:

  • Melody;
  • Rhythm;
  • Harmonies;
  • Drum beats;
  • Bass line;
  • Chorus; and
  • Tempo.

Notably, this lawsuit has not been filed by the family members of Marvin Gaye or by anyone else who has a relationship with the singer. It was filed by an investor who currently owns the rights to the hit song. When someone owns a copyright, they obtain access to all of the legal rights associated with the copyright. Their relationship, or lack thereof, to the original artist is largely irrelevant 

Copyright Infringement: How to Prove Music is Copied  

Like other forms of creative expressions, original music can be protected under U.S. copyright law. Copyright disputes regarding songs are relatively common and they can be very difficult to resolve. As this lawsuit shows, songs have a large number of different elements. Beyond lyrics, there are many other compositional factors that must come together to make a song. Should a music-based copyright infringement claim go to court, a plaintiff must prove two things in order to prevail in a lawsuit:

  1. Access; and
  2. Substantial similarity.

You cannot charge someone with a copyright violation if they have never actually had access to your song. For highly popular music such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’, access is generally not a significant issue in the dispute. This is because there is little doubt that Mr. Sheeran had access to that song. The big legal element in this case will be substantial similarity. In this case, the plaintiff will be required to prove that the ordinary listener would believe that it is more likely than not that ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was copied from ‘Let’s Get It On’. 

Do You Need Copyright Law Advice in South Florida? 

We can help. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our law firm has considerable experience handling all side of copyright law disputes. If you or your company is currently involved in a complex copyright infringement case, please contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have locations in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami, and we handle copyright law issues all over Florida, including in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Jupiter, and Royal Palm Beach.



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