Ed Sheeran wins ‘Let’s Get It On’ copyright infringement trial

Ed Sheeran departs after speaking to the media outside New York Federal Court after wining his copyright infringement trial
Ed Sheeran departs after speaking to the media outside New York Federal Court after wining his copyright infringement trial Copyright John Minchillo/AP
Copyright John Minchillo/AP
By David MouriquandAP
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The verdict caps a two-week trial that had Sheeran saying he'd quit music if he didn't win.


British singer Ed Sheeran didn't steal key components of Marvin Gaye’s classic 1970s tune 'Let’s Get It On' to create his hit song 'Thinking Out Loud', a jury said with a trial verdict in New York.

Sheeran, 32, joked later that he won't have to follow through on his threat to quit music.

As jurors left the courtroom in front of him, Sheeran smiled, nodded his head at several of them, and mouthed the words: “Thank you.”

He also approached plaintiff Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of Ed Townsend, who co-created the 1973 soul classic with Gaye and had testified. They spoke about 10 minutes, hugging and smiling and, at one point, clasping their hands together.

Sheeran later addressed reporters outside the courthouse, revisiting his claim made during the trial that he would consider quitting songwriting if he lost the case.

“I am obviously very happy with the outcome of this case, and it looks like I'm not going to have to retire from my day job, after all. But at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all,” the singer said, reading from a prepared statement.

He also said he missed his grandmother's funeral in Ireland because of the trial, and that he “will never get that time back.”

John Minchillo/AP
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, daughter of singer and songwriter Ed Townsend, arrives to New York Federal CourtJohn Minchillo/AP

Inside the courthouse after the verdict, Griffin said she was relieved.

“I'm just glad it's over,” she said of the trial. “We can be friends.”

She said her copyright lawsuit wasn't personal but she wanted to follow through on a promise to her father to protect his intellectual property.

The verdict capped a two-week trial that featured a courtroom performance by Sheeran as the singer insisted, sometimes angrily, that the trial was a threat to all musicians who create their own music.

Sheeran sat with his legal team throughout the trial, defending himself against the lawsuit by Townsend's heirs, who had said 'Thinking Out Loud' had so many similarities to 'Let's Get It On' that it violated the song's copyright protection.

It was not the first court victory for a singer whose musical style draws from classic soul, pop and R&B, making him a target for copyright lawsuits. A year ago, Sheeran won a UK copyright battle over his 2017 hit 'Shape of You' and then decried what he labelled a “culture” of baseless lawsuits that force settlements from artists eager to avoid a trial's expense.

Outside court, Sheeran said he doesn't want to be taken advantage of.

“I am just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy," he said. “I am not and will never allow myself to be a piggy bank for anyone to shake.”

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