Lawyer claims Ed Sheeran ‘confessed’ to copying Marvin Gaye with concert mashup

“If I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be an idiot,” claimed the singer-songwriter

In a new update from the ongoing lawsuit — which accuses Ed Sheeran of copying a Marvin Gaye song — a lawyer has accused the singer-songwriter of “confessing” to the infringement by mashing up the two songs at one of his concerts.

The lawsuit extends back to 2017 when Ed Townsend — one of the co-writers on the Marvin Gaye track ‘Let’s Get It On’ — accused the British pop icon of copying the track in his hit song ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

Now taken to court, the accusations allege that Sheeran and co-writer Amy Wadge copied the rhythm of the 1973 track, as well as an ascending four-chord sequence. It also references “striking similarities” between the two tracks, that violate the copyright.


During the ongoing case, Sheeran’s attorney Irene Farkas told the court that the “heartfelt song” was written “without copying” Gaye, and features elements that are commonly used in pop music. However, attorney Ben Crump retaliated and claimed that the singer “confessed” to copying Gaye when he mashed the two songs up at a live show (via The Associated Press).

“If I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be an idiot to stand on stage in front of 20,000 people [and do that],” the ‘Shape Of You’ singer said on Tuesday (April 25), responding to the allegations (via Rolling Stone). “It is my belief that most pop songs are built on building blocks that have been freely available for 100s of years.”

Ed Sheeran performs on stage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony. Credit: Jeff Kravitz
Ed Sheeran performs on stage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony. Credit: Jeff Kravitz

He also claimed that the track was inspired by the love held between his grandparents, and that it is common for pop songs to “fit over” others. “Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs,” he explained. “You could go from ‘Let it Be’ to ‘No Woman, No Cry’ and switch back,” referring to songs by The Beatles and Bob Marley (via The Guardian). He also said that, if anything, the song in question reminded him of Van Morrisson.

The hearings in New York are expected to last a week, and will also see the jury listen to recordings of the tracks, focusing on their melody, harmony and rhythm.

Sheeran also made an effort to have the lawsuit dismissed last year, when his lawyers argued that the elements of the song referenced in the filings were too common to be protected by copyright.


This motion was later rejected, however, with Judge Louis Stanton stating (via BBC): “There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work… A work may be copyrightable even though it is entirely a compilation of unprotectable elements.”

This isn’t the first case of plagiarism that Sheeran has been involved in.

Earlier this year, the musician won a plagiarism lawsuit raised against his song ‘Shape Of You’. He also settled a £16million ($20million) lawsuit raised against him and his song ‘Photograph’ in 2017.

Discussing the latter on Twitter, he described the claims as “damaging to the songwriting industry”, and added that “claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no basis for the claim.”

In other Ed Sheeran news, last week (April 21), the pop star released the latest single from his upcoming album, ‘-‘ (‘Subtract’). ‘Boat’ is set to the LP’s opening track, and represents “a metaphor for depression” and “the struggles of feeling very low and not knowing how to break the cycle”.

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