Ed Sheeran’s Near-Disaster: Songwriters Explain Why the ‘Let’s Get It On’ Case Was a Close Call
On May 8th, 2023, a jury ruled that Ed Sheeran’s hit single “Thinking Out Loud” did not infringe upon Marvin Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get It On”. But if the case had gone the other way, it would have been a near-disaster for songwriters everywhere.
How Did We Get Here?
The lawsuit was brought by Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which owns part of the copyright to Gaye’s 1973 hit. SAS argued that “Thinking Out Loud” copied elements from “Let’s Get It On” and should be deemed an infringement of copyright. The case went to trial in June 2019 and after two weeks of testimony and deliberation, the jury found in favor of Sheeran.
The verdict was seen as a victory for songwriters everywhere, as it set an important precedent for protecting creativity and originality in music. Had the jury ruled against Sheeran, it could have opened up a Pandora’s box of copyright lawsuits against musicians who draw inspiration from other artists.
What Would Have Happened If The Verdict Had Gone The Other Way?
If the verdict had gone against Sheeran, it could have had far-reaching implications for songwriting and creativity in general. For starters, it would have sent a message to songwriters everywhere that they can be held liable for drawing inspiration from another artist’s work – even if they don’t directly copy it. This could have led to an increase in copyright lawsuits against musicians who draw inspiration from other artists.
It could also have led to a decrease in creativity among songwriters, as they would be more hesitant to draw on existing works for fear of being sued. This would have been especially damaging for genres like hip hop and R&B, which often rely heavily on samples from existing songs.
Finally, it could have led to an increase in censorship among record labels and streaming services, as they would be more likely to reject songs that contain any hint of similarity with existing works – even if those similarities are unintentional or minor. This could have stifled innovation and creativity within the music industry as a whole.
The jury’s decision in favor of Ed Sheeran was seen as a victory for songwriters everywhere – one that will help protect creativity and originality in music going forward. Had the verdict gone the other way, it could have had far-reaching implications for songwriting and creativity in general – implications that we thankfully won’t need to worry about now thanks to this landmark ruling.