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Ed Sheeran takes the stand: Live performance and testimony in Thinking Out Loud copyright lawsuit

During his copyright infringement trial last week, Ed Sheeran performed a snippet of his song “Thinking Out Loud” while playing his guitar. The heirs of Ed Townsend filed the lawsuit, who co-wrote Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” alleged that Sheeran copied parts of the 1973 song while writing his 2014 hit. 

Sheeran returned to the witness stand in a Manhattan court and played the four-chord sequence that forms the basis of his song. He sang the first version of “Thinking Out Loud,” which had the original lyric “I’m singing out now” instead of “thinking out loud.” 

During his nearly one-hour testimony, Sheeran explained that he and co-writer Amy Wadge wrote the song during a two-day writing session at his home in England. 

He also shared that his grandparents’ enduring love inspired the lyrics. The trial will continue on Monday, with Sheeran expected to return to the stand for cross-examination. 

The copyright case involving Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” centers around a claim that the song copied elements of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit “Let’s Get It On.” Structured Asset Sales, a company that owns a portion of the copyright for “Let’s Get It On,” filed a lawsuit in 2016 against Sheeran, co-writer Amy Wadge, and several music companies alleging that “Thinking Out Loud” infringed on the copyright of “Let’s Get It On.” 

The lawsuit claims that “Thinking Out Loud” copies the melody, harmony, and rhythm of “Let’s Get It On” in a way that is “instantly recognizable” to the average listener. Sheeran and his legal team have denied the allegations, arguing that the similarities between the two songs are not significant enough to constitute copyright infringement. 

The case went to trial in 2019, and during his testimony, Sheeran performed a live rendition of “Thinking Out Loud” in the courtroom. The case ultimately resulted in a settlement between the parties, with the settlement terms remaining confidential. 

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