British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran on Tuesday defeated a second copyright lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan over similarities between his hit “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
US District Judge Louis Stanton dismissed the case brought by Structured Asset Sales LLC, ruling that the parts of “Let’s Get It On” Mr. Sheeran was accused of infringing were too common for copyright protection.
Mr. Sheeran won a separate jury trial over the songs in the same court earlier this month.
Mr. Stanton presided over both cases, which concerned co-writer Ed Townsend’s share of Gaye’s 1973 classic. Mr. Townsend’s heirs failed to convince jurors that Mr. Sheeran infringed their part of Mr. Townsend’s copyright in the song.
Structured Asset Sales is owned by investment banker and Bowie Bonds creator David Pullman, and it owns part of Townsend’s interest in “Let’s Get It On.” It sued Mr. Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group and his music publisher Sony Music Publishing in 2018 after Mr. Townsend’s heirs filed their lawsuit.
Mr. Stanton on Wednesday found that the combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm in Gaye’s song was a “basic musical building block” that was too common to merit copyright protection.
Mr. Sheeran’s attorney Ilene Farkas called the decision “an important victory not only for Ed” and collaborator Amy Wadge, “but for all songwriters and consumers of music.”
Structured Asset Sales has filed another lawsuit against Mr. Sheeran based on its rights to Marvin Gaye’s recording, which is still pending.
Mr. Pullman told Reuters that the jury in that case will get to hear the recording of “Let’s Get It On,” as opposed to the computerized rendition of the song’s sheet music from the Townsend trial.
“Their biggest fear, in terms of everything they’ve filed, has been to prevent the sound recording from coming in,” Mr. Pullman said. — Reuters