Ed Sheeran Battles Yet Another Litigant Claiming Infringement with ‘Thinking Out Loud’

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Ed Sheeran copyright infringement case thinking out loud

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Photo Credit: Harald Krichel / CC by 3.0

One plaintiff is still trying to appeal the verdict of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” copyright infringement case after a federal jury ruled in favor of the singer.

Ed Sheeran was found not guilty in a long-running legal battle involving his Grammy-winning hit “Thinking Out Loud” and whether he and his collaborators infringed on the copyright of the Marvin Gaye classic, “Let’s Get It On.” Now, another litigant in the initial copyright infringement suit, Structured Assets, which owns a one-third share in Gaye’s classic hit, has filed its own appeal.

The estate of Marvin Gaye co-writer Ed Townsend, who declared Sheeran’s song directly pilfered from their own, initially launched the lawsuit. A federal jury determined in May that Sheeran was not guilty of copyright infringement, much to the pop singer’s relief. But the Townsend estate sought an appeal, which Sheeran’s legal team beat in September.

Now, Structured Assets has filed their own appeal, arguing the lower court judge’s decisions in the courtroom caused them to lose their case. Structured Assets hopes to have a specific performance by Sheeran — in which he mashes up the two songs in the courtroom under cross-examination — admitted into the appeals court proceedings, among other items of note.

“The district court’s erroneous decisions should be reversed, and appellant’s case restored so that it can proceed to trial,” declares Structured Assets. “Musical notation is a way of trying to capture the ephemeral in the physical, but it is and has always been limited in its ability to capture every nuance of the work. Deposit copies do not, and were never meant to be, a limitation on the scope of the copyright they represent.”

“The district court erred when it adopted the (ruling) and held that the scope of the (‘Let’s Get It On’) copyright registration was strictly limited by the handwritten sheet music ‘deposit copy’ filed by Townsend in 1973,” Structured Assets continued in their filing.

“The district court erred again when it prohibited (Plaintiffs) from amending the complaint to add a copyright registration for the same musical composition based on the (‘Let’s Get It On’) sound recording, and again when it prohibited (Plaintiffs) musicology experts from opining and testifying as to how skilled musicians would play that sheet music, either of which would have addressed the problems the district court created by its ‘deposit copy’ ruling.”

This is the second time Structured Assets will have filed a complaint against Sheeran over chord progression they claim was lifted from Gaye’s classic. A federal judge dismissed the first filing against Sheeran back in May.