Ed Sheeran’s copyright infringement trial began Monday in Manhattan Federal Court.
The family of songwriter Ed Townsend alleges Sheeran used parts of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
Sheeran has denied the allegations and is set to testify in the trial.
The heirs of Marvin Gaye’s songwriting partner could see a multi-million-dollar payday in their song theft lawsuit against Ed Sheeran.
Sheeran faces allegations from the family of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s writing collaborator for “Let’s Get It On,” who say the pop star copied parts of “Let’s Get It On” for his own smash hit, “Thinking Out Loud.”
Townsend’s daughter, Kathryn Townsend-Griffin, his sister Helen McDonald and the estate of his late wife, Cherrigale, sued the “Shape of You” singer back in 2017.
The case doesn’t designate a dollar amount for the payoff, but the plaintiffs want an injunction barring Sheeran from performing “Thinking Out Loud,” plus money damages, which could leave Sheeran on the hook for a payout in the millions.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Sheeran has denied the Townsend family’s allegations, saying that “Thinking Out Loud” is a uniquely composed song.
In court papers, 32-year-old crooner’s lawyers asserted that “Thinking Out Loud” isn’t similar to “Let’s Get It On,” and that the Townsend family’s claims should be tossed because they don’t have legal standing to bring the case and are barred by a statute of limitations.
Sheeran is expected to take the stand in his defense, according to court papers. His lawyers did not return a request for comment Monday.
For Marvin Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, this case may seem familiar.
He, along with his siblings successfully sued Pharrell and Robin Thicke in 2015, for copyright infringement.
A jury found that the artists improperly co-opted parts of his father’s song “Got To Give It Up,” for their song, “Blurred Lines,” and awarded the Gaye family a $5 million payout.
Gaye III is “watching these proceedings closely,” according to Paul Philips, the lawyer who represented him in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit.
“Sadly, this case represents another in the long line of instances of artists seeing fit to steal music from other artists,” Philips told Insider.
“In this particular case, Mr. Sheeran knows what he did – he misappropriated protected intellectual property directly from the mind of the late, legendary Marvin Gaye,” Philips said. “We’re confident this jury will recognize that.”
Correction April 24, 2023: This story was updated to reflect the correct spelling of Paul Philips’ name.
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