Ed Sheeran Speaks Out After Winning Copyright Case

Ed Sheeran smiles while standing with his legal team after winning his copyright infringement case in New York
JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A victory with a message. Ed Sheeran spoke out after winning a copyright case about his song “Thinking Out Loud” — and slammed the practice of suing artists for using “common building blocks” of music.

“I’m obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I’m not having to retire from my day job after all,” the Grammy winner, 32, began in a press conference on Thursday, May 4. “But at the same time, I’m unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all. We spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day all over the world.”

The “Shape of You” crooner continued: “These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before ‘Let’s Get It On’ was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone. They are in a songwriter’s alphabet, our toolkit, and should be there for all of us to use. No one owns them or the way they are played in the same way that nobody owns the color blue.”

Sheeran’s impassioned speech came after a federal jury decided on Thursday that his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud” doesn’t copy Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On.” The family of Gaye’s cowriter, Ed Townsend, sued Sheeran in 2017, claiming that the two songs had enough similarities to violate copyright laws.

On Thursday, however, the jury found that Sheeran and his cowriter Amy Wadge had created the song independently.

In his speech, the “Sing” musician called out the plaintiff’s “expert” witnesses who attempted to prove that the two songs were similar. “Unfortunately, unfounded claims like this are being fueled by individuals who are offered as music experts in musical analysis,” the U.K. native said. “In this instance, the other side’s musicologist left out words and notes, presented simple and different pitches as melody and by doing so created what I think we proved for all to see were misleading comparisons and disinformation to find supposed similarities where none exist.”

The Game of Thrones alum added that it was “devastating to be accused of stealing someone else’s song” when he and Wadge, 47, have “put so much work” into their careers. “I’m just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy,” he continued. “I am not and will never allow myself to be a piggy bank for anyone to shake.”

Sheeran went on to note that he had to miss his grandmother’s funeral in Ireland while he was in New York City for the trial, which began last month. “I will never get that time back,” he told reporters. “These trials take a significant toll on everyone involved.”

The “Thinking Out Loud” lawsuit represents one of the most high-profile copyright cases in recent memory, but it is not the first one to involve Gaye or Sheeran. In 2015, a federal jury found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had lifted the sound of Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” for their 2013 smash “Blurred Lines.”

Sheeran, for his part, won a copyright case last year after musicians Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue alleged that he stole portions of their song “Oh Why” for his 2017 tune “Shape of You.” In April 2022, a judge ruled that Sheeran had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” the other artists’ work.

After winning that case, the “Photograph” singer again blasted what he called “baseless” copyright claims against musicians. “It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry. There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music,” Sheeran said in an Instagram video at the time. “Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify. That’s 22 million songs a year and there’s only 12 notes that are available.”