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Thu Jan 3, 2019, 05:14 PM

U.S. judge orders Ed Sheeran to face Marvin Gaye plagiarism lawsuit

Source: Reuters

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS JANUARY 3, 2019 / 3:44 PM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

U.S. judge orders Ed Sheeran to face Marvin Gaye plagiarism lawsuit

Jonathan Stempel
3 MIN READ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has rejected English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of lifting from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On” for his 2014 smash “Thinking Out Loud.”

In a decision made public on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan said a jury should decide whether Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records should be liable to the estate and heirs of the late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye.

Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements,” including their bass lines and percussion, and said it was in dispute whether the harmonic rhythm of “Let’s Get It On” was too common to deserve copyright protection.

He also said ordinary listeners might view the songs’ “aesthetic appeal” as the same, despite defense arguments that “Thinking Out Loud” was characterized by “somber, melancholic tones, addressing long lasting romantic love” while “Let’s Get It On” was a “sexual anthem” radiating positive emotions.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-music-sheeran-lawsuit/u-s-judge-orders-ed-sheeran-to-face-marvin-gaye-plagiarism-lawsuit-idUSKCN1OX1RQ

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Reply U.S. judge orders Ed Sheeran to face Marvin Gaye plagiarism lawsuit (Original post)
Eugene Jan 2019 OP
Fiendish Thingy Jan 2019 #1
Ohiogal Jan 2019 #3
Fiendish Thingy Jan 2019 #5
Jarqui Jan 2019 #2
Fiendish Thingy Jan 2019 #6
Jarqui Jan 2019 #8
msongs Jan 2019 #4
Fiendish Thingy Jan 2019 #7

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 05:26 PM

1. My band did a medley of the two songs

At a wedding a few years ago - the choruses are the same chord progression and almost the same melody.

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Response to Fiendish Thingy (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 05:43 PM

3. You did "Let's Get It On" for a wedding?

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Response to Ohiogal (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 09:18 PM

5. Yeah, "Thinking out Loud" was for the wedding...

And "Let's get it on" was for the honeymoon...

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 05:35 PM

2. The chord progressions seem similar

but the melodies don't.

There are a lot of songs with similar chord progressions - a lot of three chord rock & roll and blues for example.

I always thought the melody carried the day in musical copyright. Maybe this case is going to make some law ... in that I'm surprised it is proceeding based upon what I heard. I thought the case against Led Zeppelin was better yet agreed with the result.

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Response to Jarqui (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 09:21 PM

6. If you can sing the melody of one song against the chords of the other

Then there's a chance plagiarism is involved.

It's not just the chord progression and melody, it's also the rhythm, the starts and stops.

My band was able to blend the two songs seamlessly.

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Response to Fiendish Thingy (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 09:34 PM

8. Two songs may well blend seamlessly if they use the sane chord progression


The melodies distinguish the various songs.
You could potentially combine any or all of those songs seamlessly.
They get closer still if the same beat and instrument arrangement is used.

This helped clarify what might be at issue in my head:
https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/melodies-copyrighted-7524.html
Compositions
The U.S. Copyright Office recognizes two types of copyright claims for melodies. The first is the copyright of a musical composition, which recognizes the songwriter for creating the song. Melodies may be copyrighted as compositions if they’re fixed as sheet music or a recording. Sound recordings are sounds made at the actual recording sessions when a musician records a song. While a songwriter who writes and records a melody -- such as a performing musician recording an album -- can claim copyright on the composition and recording at the same time, a musician who records a song that another person wrote may only register the copyright on her sound recording.


I think the melodies are different enough that the copyright on the musical composition is probably safe (I haven't checked note by note - just a rough feel). I'm guessing they're accusing some infringement on the sound copyright - but to me, even there, it seems like a stretch.

Having said that, I haven't read the complaint so I cannot pass final judgment until I see more details. For the judge to allow it to proceed, they must think there is some potential merit to the claim.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 07:12 PM

4. only melody notes and lyrics can be copyrighted. chords cannot nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 3, 2019, 09:24 PM

7. Not exactly- Radiohead was successfully sued for copying the Hollies'

The air that I breathe with a slightly different melody, and Tom Petty sued Sam Smith for stealing one of his songs a few years ago- similar melody,same chords and rhythm.

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