Ed Sheeran, who won in court in New York last week, fresh out of an eight-year battle for copyright infringement, is “really happy it’s over.”
during a view on Howard Stern Show On Wednesday, the singer considered the lawsuit in which “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Townsend claimed heirs had stolen Sheeran’s Marvin Gaye hit with his own song “Thinking Out Loud.” Sheeran stood by his claim that he would have quit music altogether if he had lost the case in court.
The supposed smoking gun in attorney Benjamin Crump’s lawsuit against Sheeran was the British singer’s 2014 concert, which mixed hits with “Thinking Out Loud” and Gaye. Crump noted in court “how similar the defendant’s song was to ‘Let’s Get It On’. The melody hasn’t changed, the chord sequence hasn’t changed, the harmony hasn’t changed, and the harmonic compositions haven’t changed at all.”
Sheeran told Stern that if he lost, it would mean sitting down and writing music and thinking, “I can’t change a C chord to a G chord because in the 60s someone used a C cord against a G chord.” According to Sheeran, such a result “ruins the fun” of songwriting.
To demonstrate how he won his case, Sheeran pulled out his guitar and played a few songs based on the same chord progression as the two songs in question, just as he did in court. There was “Did I Tell You Lately I Love You”, “People Get Ready”, “You’re Still Single”, “Just Like A Woman” and “My Daughter”. The examples, Sheeran said, go on and on.
Nevertheless, the victory of the singer at the court was never a sure thing. As Helen Holmes previously reported for The Daily Beast, the Gaye family’s victory in the 2015 lawsuit over the similarities between Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” is a disturbing one. created a precedent.
Sheeran echoed what Stern had argued in court: “Yes, it’s a string of chords you hear in successful songs, but if you say a song from 1973 has that, then what about all the songs that came before it?”
“No one is saying that songs shouldn’t be copyrighted,” he added, “but you can’t copyright a chord sequence. You can’t.” When asked if he had support from other artists, Sheeran confirmed that he received warm words from “Elton” (probably Elton John), Jon Bon Jovi, and “Taylor” (probably Swift).
“It’s my livelihood and it’s what I’ve worked to do all my life,” Sheeran told Stern. “The fact that someone didn’t believe it and belittle it and just say you stole it, I really felt like I had to take a stand and go to him.”
At the same time, he said, “You lose either way – because God knows what you spend to win the case and then you can’t get it back. And if you lose the case, you lose. … And there’s the stain on your reputation.”