Ed Sheeran Says He's "Done" with Music If Found Guilty in Marvin Gaye Plagiarism Trial

"I find it really insulting to work my whole life as a singer-songwriter and diminish it"

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 2, 2023

Ed Sheeran has clearly done the math, and should he be found liable for lifting pieces of a Marvin Gaye classic for his own "Thinking Out Loud," the Sum of It All will not equate to a rosy musical future.

Since late April, Sheeran has been on the stand in Manhattan, literally serenading the court as he testifies against claims he ripped off Gaye's "Let's Get It On" for his own "Thinking Out Loud," recorded for his 2014 LP x.

The claims against Sheeran first came from the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote "Let's Get It On" with Gaye. A lawsuit first filed in 2016 alleged that "the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of 'Thinking' are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of 'Let's [Get It On],'" ahead of the suit being dismissed without prejudice in 2017.

In 2018, Sheeran was sued for the same alleged copyright infringement by Structured Asset Sales, a company holding one-third of the copyright ownership to "Let's Get It On." Upon news of the suit, the company was seeking $100 million in damages.

Reporting by the New York Post on trial scenes have included Sheeran refuting claims of a musicologist on the side of the plaintiffs, and his co-writer Amy Wadge telling jurors how "Thinking Out Loud" brought Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately" to mind upon hearing Sheeran play it.

Now, the Post reports that Sheeran testified yesterday he'll be "done" should he not come away with a legal victory.

Asked by his attorney yesterday (May 1) what he would do if he lost the case, Sheeran responded, "If that happens, I'm done. I'm stopping. I find it really insulting to work my whole life as a singer-songwriter and diminish it." 

For years, Sheeran and/or his music have been an easy target for people he finds pointlessExclaim! staffers included. However, put aside the dunking for a moment, and consider the wider implications this case could have if Sheeran doesn't end up with a legal victory. Should compositional elements of music — like drum patterns and chord progressions — suddenly become copyrightable, litigious rightsholders will absolutely look to "Get It On" like you've never seen with similar suits.

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