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Jury finds Ed Sheeran didn’t copy Marvin Gaye classic

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NEW YORK (AP) — How British singer Ed Sheeran stole key elements from Marvin Gaye’s 1970s classic “Let’s Get It On” to create his hit “Thinking Out Loud” Not, jurors said in Thursday’s verdict, joking after urging Sheeran to follow through on his threats to quit music.

After more than two hours of deliberation by a seven-person jury, the emotions of the epic copyright battle that has raged for most of the past decade spilled over as soon as they delivered their verdict.

Sheeran, 32, patted her hand on the face in relief before standing up to hug her attorney, Eileen Farkas. As the jurors left the courtroom in front of him, Sheeran smiled, nodded to some of them, and said the words “thank you.” Afterwards, he took a picture of the hallway with the remaining jurors behind him.

He also reached out to Ed Townsend’s daughter, plaintiff Kathryn Townsend Griffin, who co-produced and testified with Gaye on the 1973 Soul Classic. We talked and at one point we shook hands.

Sheeran later addressed reporters outside the courthouse and revisited his argument, made during the trial, that he would consider quitting songwriting if he lost the lawsuit.

“I am obviously very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit and, after all, it seems that I do not have to retire from my day job. I am incredibly frustrated that I am being allowed to,” the singer said after reading a prepared statement.

He also said he was unable to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Ireland due to the trial, saying “that time will never come back”.

In court after the verdict, Griffin said he was relieved.

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

She said she was happy that Sheeran approached her.

“It showed me who he was,” said Griffin.

She said the copyright lawsuit was not personal, but she wanted to keep her father’s promise to protect his intellectual property.

Juror Sophia Neiss later told reporters that when deliberations began, no consensus was reached immediately.

“Everybody was giving their opinion. There were defenders on both sides,” said 23-year-old Neis. “There was a lot of back and forth.”

The verdict capped a two-week trial that featured a courtroom performance by Sheeran, who argued, sometimes angrily, that the trial was a threat to any musician who creates their own music.

Sheeran sat with his legal team throughout the trial, and against the lawsuit by Townshend’s heirs, said that “Thinking Out Loud” had so many similarities to “Let’s Get It On” that the song’s authorship He said he violated his copyright protection.

It wasn’t the first court victory for the singer who drew musical styles from classic soul, pop and R&B and was the subject of copyright lawsuits. A year ago, Sheeran won a UK copyright battle over his 2017 hit “Shape of You,” a ‘culture’ of baseless litigation that forced artists to settle to avoid legal fees. accused of

Outside the courtroom, Sheeran said he didn’t want to be taken advantage of.

“I’m a guy who has a guitar and loves to write music that people can enjoy,” he said. “I will never allow anyone to be a piggy bank to be swung around.”

At the start of the trial, attorney Ben Crump told jurors on behalf of Townshend’s heirs that Sheeran himself sometimes performed two songs together. and could hear Sheeran making an onstage segue between “Let’s Get It On” and “Thinking Out Loud.” Crump said it was proof of the “smoking gun” that Sheeran stole from the famous song.

In Wednesday’s closing argument, Farkas said Crump’s “smoking gun was shooting blanks.”

She said the only elements the two songs had in common were “the foundation of every songwriter’s toolkit” and “the scaffolding upon which all songwriting is built”.

“They didn’t copy it. Not consciously. Not unconsciously. Not at all,” Farkas said.

As Sheeran testified for two days in his defense, he repeatedly picked up a guitar that had been placed behind him on the witness stand and seamlessly created a two- or three-song “mashup” during the concert. , demonstrated how to “pump it up a bit” on quite a few of his songs. crowd.

The British pop star’s playful demeanor was displayed under questioning by his lawyer, but all but disappeared on cross-examination.

“When you’re writing a song, someone follows you,” Sheeran testified, saying the incident was being watched closely by others in the industry.

He claimed that he and song co-writer Amy Wadge didn’t steal anything from “Let’s Get It On.”

Townshend’s heirs said in the lawsuit that “Thinking Out Loud” had “notable similarities” and “obvious commonalities” and copied “Let’s Get It On,” a song featured in numerous movies and commercials. said it became clear. It has garnered hundreds of millions of streams and radio plays in the last half century.

Released in 2014, Sheeran’s song was a hit and won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

Sheeran’s label, Atlantic Records and Sony/ATV Music Publishing were also named as defendants in the “Thinking Out Loud” lawsuit, but the focus of the trial was Sheeran.

Wadge, who was not a defendant, testified on his behalf and hugged Sheeran after the verdict.

Gay was shot dead in 1984 at the age of 44 by his father who tried to intervene in a fight between his parents. He’s been a Motown superstar since his 1960s, but his songs released in the 1970s made him a generational musical giant.

Townshend, who wrote the 1958 R&B doo-wop hit “For Your Love,” was a singer, songwriter, and lawyer who died in 2003. great future. ”


Los Angeles AP writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report. See more of his AP articles on Ed Sheeran: https://apnews.com/hub/ed-sheeran

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