Jury finds Ed Sheeran didn't plagiarize Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' for his 2014 hit "Pondering Out Loud"

  • A jury discovered Ed Sheeran’s hit “Pondering Out Loud” does not infringe on the copyright of “Let’s Get It On.”
  • A Manhattan jury returned the decision round 1 p.m. Thursday.
  • Sheeran denied stealing the melody and “harmonic rhythm” from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 soul traditional.

A jury in Manhattan on Thursday discovered that Ed Sheeran didn’t plagiarize Marvin Gaye’s 1973 soul traditional, “Let’s Get It On,” when he wrote his personal hit, “Pondering Out Loud,” forty years later.

The heirs of Ed Townsend, the co-composer of Gaye’s hit, had accused Sheeran in a federal lawsuit of stealing a four-chord development and the final form of some melodies from the music.

“I’m only a man with a guitar who loves writing music for individuals to get pleasure from,” Sheeran instructed reporters in a press release after his victory.

“I’m not and can by no means enable myself to be a piggy financial institution for anybody to shake.” 


Townsend’s household — together with his solely inheritor, daughter Kathryn Townsend-Griffin, his sister Helen McDonald, and the property of his late spouse, Cherrigale — first filed the lawsuit in 2017. They needed to forestall Sheeran from ever recording or performing “Pondering Out Loud” once more.

The lawsuit additionally sought cash damages, estimated to be within the hundreds of thousands, from the artist, his label, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Publishing.

Sheeran’s protection argued that each songs’ chord progressions, and the rhythm the chords are performed in — primarily the songs’ “groove” — are widespread to many different pop songs, together with some written and recorded nicely earlier than “Let’s Get It On.”

Sheeran himself testified within the trial, usually with a small accoustic touring guitar in hand.

He instructed jurors that the notes in his chord development had been barely totally different, and that his melody was completely totally different, from these in “Let’s Get It On.”  

Each songs, he stated after Thursday’s victory, are constructed utilizing commonplace harmonic rhythms and progressions of chords.

“These chords are widespread constructing blocks which had been used to create music lengthy earlier than “Let’s Get It On” was written and shall be used to make music lengthy after we’re gone,” he instructed reporters.

“They’re a songwriter’s ‘alphabet,’ our instrument equipment, and needs to be there for all of us to make use of. Nobody owns them, or the way in which they’re performed, in the identical method no person owns the colour blue.”

The trial was full of stay and recorded music, supplied each as reveals and testimony. 

At one level, many within the courtroom laughed as Sheeran’s professional musicologist performed a computer-generated rendition of “Let’s Get It On.” The rendition remoted the Gaye hit’s melody and chords — and featured a high-pitched robotic voice crooning, “Giving your self to me can by no means be incorrect.”  

Ben Crump, a lawyer for Townsend’s household, had argued that Sheeran performing a mash-up of “Pondering Out Loud” and “Let’s Get it On” throughout a live performance in Zurich, Switzerland was the “smoking gun” that proved the British singer-songwriter had knowingly plagiarized Gaye’s hit. 

However Sheeran instructed jurors that many, many songs share a fundamental chord construction and could be sung over the identical development.

“If I had completed what you are accusing me of doing I would be fairly an fool to face on stage in entrance of 25,000 individuals,” he testified.

He additionally instructed jurors that if he loses, he’ll be “completed” with writing music. It is a promise Sheeran referred to very first thing when he approached the mic stand exterior federal courtroom, moments after his win.

“I’m clearly very proud of the end result of the case,” he instructed reporters. “And it appears to be like like I am not going to must retire from my day job in spite of everything.” 

This copyright infringement trial is not Sheeran’s first — he gained a $1.1 million lawsuit final 12 months after UK singer Sami Change accused Sheeran’s “Form of You” music of plagiarizing from Change’s 2015 music “Oh Why,” in response to Billboard.

Gaye’s music has additionally been the topic of comparable instances prior to now. In 2015, Gaye’s heirs gained their lawsuit in opposition to Pharrell and Robin Thicke, whose music “Blurred Traces” was discovered to be plagiarized from Gaye’s “Obtained to Give it Up.”