Why limit yourself to winning the copyright lawsuit? A federal judge dismissed with prejudice other Breach of contract lawsuit filed against Ed Sheeran regarding “Thinking Out Loud” and elements it allegedly copied from Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
Judge Louis L. Stanton — the same judge who presided over Ed Townsend’s heirs’ high-profile “Thinking Out Loud” copyright lawsuit — just recently signed an order dismissing this very similar lawsuit. Of course, it’s only been two weeks since a jury concluded that 32-year-old Sheeran didn’t use Let’s Get It On to create Thinking Out Loud.
Beyond that high-risk court confrontation, however, a company called Structured Asset Sales (SAS) sued Sheeran in 2018 for allegedly infringing on the Gaye classic in his own hit, which racked up a whopping 2.23 billion Spotify streams. Operated by investment banker David Pullman (who is perhaps best known for his work). “Bowie Bonds” participation), according to its original complaint, SAS had at some point received a part of the rights to “Let’s Get It On”.
SAS alleged in the lawsuit that Sheeran copied (among other things) the chord progression from “Let’s Get It On,” and a ruling by Judge Stanton last September indicated the case would also go to court. However, as mentioned above, this time the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action unconditionally.
In explaining the dismissal decision, Judge Stanton emphasized his belief that the “everyday” elements of “Let’s Get It On” at issue are “not protectable” under state copyright law.
“In a way,” the judge wrote, “every work is the selection and arrangement of invulnerable elements.” … This means that a songwriter has limited ability to play an everyday chord progression. The possibilities are so small that many combinations have become commonplace, especially in popular music.”
And specifically with regard to the 1973 Marvin Gaye track at issue, the judge pointed out that protecting its chord progression and harmonic rhythm gave the work “an improper monopoly over a fundamental musical building block”. would.
“It is an unassailable reality that the chord progression and harmonic rhythm in ‘Let’s Get It On’ are so commonplace, both in isolation and in combination, that protecting their combination would give ‘Let’s Get It On’ an undue monopoly over a base musical .” “Building block,” Judge Stanton drove home, also noting that “the chord progression was used at least twenty-nine times before it appeared on ‘Let’s Get It On,’ and appeared on another twenty-three songs before ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was released became.” “
With those points in mind, the judge granted the defendants’ release motion “to prevent manifest injustice,” according to the ruling. At the time of writing, Peloton partner Sheeran does not appear to have commented publicly on the development — although the singer-songwriter has already made his views clear on frivolous copyright lawsuits.