He’d threatened to quit making music if he lost the case, and so Ed Sheeran’s fans can now breathe a sigh of relief, as a New York jury has ruled him not liable in a case where he was accused of ripping off Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ by the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend.
The Guardian reports that Sheeran was angry that the case had even happened in the first place: “I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case […] but at the same time I’m unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.”
Sheeran can be excused, perhaps, for this annoyance: it’s the second time in a year that he’s had to defend himself in court after being accused of plagiarism in 2022.
This case has been watched carefully by the music industry and there’s a couple of key questions raised here. Firstly, as music catalogues become valid investment vehicles, with apparently steady returns, will we see more court cases as song owners try to eke out more revenue from them? (And, a sub-thought: what happens to those catalogues’ values if the industry shifts away from the pro-rata model?).
Secondly, will we now see artists and songwriters being a lot more methodical and forensic in recording every step of their music-making process, in case they need to later prove that they have not ripped off someone else?
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