Ed Sheeran says if he loses his ‘Let’s Get it On’ copyright case he’ll quit music

Ed Sheeran has been sued multiple times for copyright infringement on his hit songs. He’s settled once, won once, and had to retroactively award credit another time. The case for which he is in court currently is for similarities between “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let’s Get It On.” During hearings, Ed was asked by his own lawyer what he would do if the court didn’t find in his favor and Ed said if that happens, he’s done with music, but he didn’t elaborate further.

Trial reconvened Monday as Ed Sheeran spent his fifth day in court, where he is being sued for alleged copyright infringement over his 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud” and expressed his frustrations.

Launched by Structured Asset Sales — who purchased a third of the shares of the song from the family of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye, in 2018 — the suit alleges that Sheeran’s hit took elements directly from the song.

During the hearing, Sheeran, 32, took the stand and was questioned by his lawyer Ilene Farkas. At one point, he was asked what he would do if the court finds “Thinking Out Loud” to be too similar to “Let’s Get It On.”

“If that happens, I’m done, I’m stopping,” Sheeran said.

“I find it to be really insulting,” he added. “I work really hard to be where I’m at.”

A rep for Sheeran did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for clarification.

Later in the hearing, the “Lego House” singer was questioned by the plaintiff’s lawyer Robert Frank. After offering up some stern responses, Sheeran complained about his line of questioning.

“You’re trying to diminish my success,” he said. “‘Thinking Out Loud’ was my first Grammy.”

Amy Wadge, Sheeran’s co-writer for “Thinking Out Loud” also took the stand and explained to jurors that the song’s tune sounded more like Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” as it has the same chords in a different key. She also reflected on how she felt about being accused of copying “Let’s Get It On.”

“It was pretty devastating and pretty frightening because it’s something we did not do,” said Wadge.

[From People]

Ed has said in the past that he now films his songwriting process after the multiple lawsuits. This isn’t a new lawsuit since those comments, but maybe these lawsuits have disheartened him enough that he’s going to step away from music if this one doesn’t go his way. (I also don’t think the co-writer’s comments that “Thinking Out Loud” actually sounds like another song is the defense she thinks it is.) The article characterized him as stern and complaining and the quotes they choose definitely come across that way, but maybe he’s just really down about this. I don’t really know that stepping away from music is the answer? Is his reputation or popularity as an artist taking a huge hit because of this? Anyway, I’ve made clear in the past that I’m no fan of Ed’s, but if he quits doing something he loves because he’s disheartened that makes me feel a bit bad for him. Also, Ed had his docuseries come out and it sheds light on some of his personal issues, like his wife’s cancer diagnosis and the death of his close friend. The weight of those struggles is probably also at play here with the comments about quitting.

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44 Responses to “Ed Sheeran says if he loses his ‘Let’s Get it On’ copyright case he’ll quit music”

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  1. bus says:

    Yea, that sucks. Having to spend all the time filming the process, archiving the footage, setting up cameras, etc. just so you can write a song and win the eventual lawsuits for having written it ruins the fun of it so I can understand why he’s like: I’m done. And that kind of weight will carry through to his music as well cause it’s affecting him. It’s worse than a listener not paying for a copy. It’s knowing that someone will try to own what you’re creating before it’s even finished. That blows.

  2. Naye In VA says:

    There is a Gogo cover over Thinking Out Loud that sounds so good and it transitions back and forth to Let’s Get It On seamlessly. I had no knowledge of this lawsuit until today but… the semblance is absolutely there.
    I would feel bad if he drama quit over this, just a little bit, and I have very little knowledge of music rights but I also… don’t feel bad because he wouldn’t be the first to lift heavily from a black creator and profit from it so…

    • Torttu says:

      That can be done with ten thousand songs though. For example, every Bruno Mars song always sounds like some other song to me.

      • Sid says:

        That is in part because Bruno Mars’s music is incredibly derivative. He is extremely talented, but his hits just sound like reworkings of past artists’ music.

      • Tiffany:) says:

        All western popular music is incredibly derivative! All disco music, heavy metal, r&b, pop, hip hop, trap, etc share commonalities, that’s what establishes the genre.

  3. Arizona says:

    this is the second time there’s been a lawsuit saying that a popular song ripped off one of Marvin Gaye’s songs, and I don’t hear it at all either time. and honestly, unless it’s incredibly blatant, these lawsuits are silly and frivolous. there’s only so many chord progressions!

    • original_kellybean says:

      I completely agree. When I saw this story last week about Marvin Gaye’s family suing Ed Sheeran, my first thought was “Do they not have jobs? They just go around suing musicians to pay their bills and live off the legacy of their family member?” It’s really gross to me.

      • Chantal says:

        @Arizona. Its not the chord progression that’s the issue, it’s the arrangement of the composition around those chords that’s now being frequently litigated. Arrangers are now expecting to get paid much more for their part in producing hit songs.

        @ Original Kellybean While it’s a Marvin Gaye song, the Marvin Gaye estate isn’t suing. Its the company that purchased a portion of the shares from his co-writer’s family (the Townsends) that’s suing.

      • Sunnee says:

        It’s not Marvin Gaye’s family who is suing. It’s the estate of the co-writer of Let’s Get it On, Ed Townsend.

      • arhus says:

        copyright trolls – they’re everywhere. and often did not actually come up with the original idea that was copyrighted.

  4. Fumi says:

    I feel bad about his personal struggles but, you can’t continually steal from black musicians and think that it’s okay…

    • Guest83 says:

      The issue in copyright law right now though is that they broadened the definition of a contributing or derivative work in music so much in a few decisions (that even plaintiffs’ lawyers agree at times are impossible to understand or follow) so that artists are being sued by the estates of singers in situations where the similarities come down to (a) the artist being sued liked the other artist and (b) there’s only so many chords in the world.

      His co-writer’s defense actually IS a defense because that band hasn’t sued them.

      The issue isn’t that he should be allowed to steal from Black creators; he obviously shouldn’t. But, he’s fighting lawsuits that absolutely *will* blowback on creators with less power, including Black creators. He and Taylor Swift and a few other artists just have deeper pockets so they can afford to fight lawsuits but I am sure suits are being settled right and left because of how broad these recent rulings are. It’s far more damaging to the music business as a whole than even the sampling controversies from the 90s.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      Except he’s not stealing. The suit is literally over a chord progression. It’s not alleging theft of lyrics, composition or arrangement.

      As much as I would love for the music world to be rid of Ed, this suit has no merit.

    • MF says:

      Of course you shouldn’t be able to steal from black musicians. So it’s a good thing he didn’t.

  5. Concern Fae says:

    The Blurred Lines lawsuit set a terrible precedent. They set the number of notes/chords repeated way to short. Imagine if the Happy Birthday songwriters could sue everyone who used the phrase Happy Birthday. Or if, as a writer, you could get sued by the heirs of Agatha Christie for plagiarism because you used the phrase “I feel bad for him” in this article? That’s how ridiculous these lawsuits are. All of the “original” songs could be found to have similar copying from earlier songs. There just aren’t that many chord progressions that are pleasing to the ear. The creativity is in using them in new combinations, not coming up with ones that have never been used before.

    • Guest83 says:

      Its causing a genuine crisis in copyright law that even many plaintiff’s lawyers admit is way too broad. It is almost impossible to predict which songs will result in lawsuits, which ones are likely to be successful, and a huge number of nuisance suits.

      People like Sheeran and Taylor and a few others who have fought back are using their deep pockets not just to protect themselves; their defenses will benefit smaller bands who may still get sued but don’t have the money to fight.

      • Honey says:

        I am a deep, deep lover of R & B (born and raised on R & B) and the moment I heard Blurred Lines, I knew it had sampled, stolen, copied or imitated Marvin Gaye’s work. I wasn’t on the jury but I would have definitely said that I hear the exist chords and arrangements.

        I only listen to or have heard Ed Sheeran here and there. So, I really don’t have an opinion. I’ll go listen to the song now, tho.

      • Honey says:

        Just listened. I can heeeaaarr it. It’s not out and out blatant, but I can hear it. You have to know the song lyrics and sounds of Marvin Gaye’s work to begin singing it over Sheeran’s work. I can see how Sheehan was likely influenced by Let’s Get it On. I wouldn’t necessarily call it out and out theft, but I can hear echoes there. The melody Ed Sheehan uses is a bit flatter and longer. However, I can see/hear one being superimposed on the other, fused together—if you will—and it working very well. It’s not the in your face copying/sampling like Blurred Lines tho.

      • Guest83 says:

        So, I’ll say that I don’t really have a good ear for music so I cannot comment on the Blurred Lines similarity specifically but the issue isn’t whether Blurred Lines itself violated Gaye’s copyright (I hate that song and am fine with them losing), but it was the legal arguments that underpinned the victory that has caused havoc in the music industry. Sheeran is far from the only writer and producer to comment on filming their sessions because the legal reasoning that the court put forth (and that other courts have relied on since) was pretty vague and very broad.

        I’m not an expert on copyright law specifically but there’s been a *major* shift since the Blurred Lines decision and it does not seem to be a particularly clear or well-settled area of law at the moment which is why I pause when I see someone like Sheeran getting called out because he’s being sued so often. Every artist is probably being sued; we probably just aren’t hearing about it.

    • caela says:

      I’m biased cos I don’t like Ed! But just say that the happy birthday song IS copyrighted and you can get sued for using it without paying.

  6. Nanea says:

    Ed has had these allegations against him more than other artists who are very succesful, and… where there’s smoke, right?

    That said, I’m sure it’s not easy to not be unconsciously influenced by catchy tunes, but, as has been mentioned already, why is it always Black artists that have their intellectual property rights violated?

    And, as I’m not a fan, I’m probably not qualified to judge, but I find Ed’s music very repetitive. It all sounds somehow the same.

    • Chantal says:

      @Nanea Exactly. The artist with the most sampled music is James Brown. Others include Marvin Gaye, The Winstons, Lyn Collins, and Rick James. The piano segment by El Debarge in Stay With Me (DeBarge) proved to be pure genius and lucrative. MC Hammer built the success of his rap career from sampling Rick James and had to pay half of his royalties from U Can’t Touch This to Rick James and royalties on other songs. For decades, too many artists have been getting away with ripping off Black artists/musicians with few consequences. The copying is not as blatant these days and sometimes more difficult to prove. I hope it isn’t true in his case but if it is, he will owe money.

    • Typical virgo says:

      @Nanea- I agree with you 100000%! I can’t stand Ed Sheeran, his music IS super repetitive, and I feel like he was kind of forced on us.

      I also agree that it’s impossible to not be influenced by music that you’ve heard or liked, but the fact is it’s almost always black artists being copied, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And I’m not sure how filming his song writing process proves that he didn’t copy anyone. It’s not like him and his co-writer were like “HEY LETS RIP OFF MARVIN GAYE!!! YOU CAN HELP ME COPY HIS CHORDS AND ARRANGEMENTS!!” before they started filming themselves.

  7. AmB says:

    Lawsuits over any creative intellectual property are so fraught and subjective. The price of success, I guess, is that the legal trolls come out from under the bridge.

    Speaking of trolls, though, and WAY more important (not), does he not look like a Muppet? So wide-eyed! So tousled! So nonthreatening!

  8. hangonamin says:

    a lot of musicians have been disappointed by the previous thicke lawsuit. this new lawsuit alleges basically the entire song is plagiarized (melody, rhythm, baseline, drums, backing, looping etc). first, song isn’t even in the same key. second, this is basically saying chord progressions and tempo that are shared by many many songs are copyrighted, which is insane. finally, musicologists have already looked at the songs at Berkley and have already said there’s not a lot of similarities. basically if they win this case, then musicians can just copyright a musical style and no one else can use it. yea i would be disappointed if i was Ed too.

    • Juju says:

      I feel like putting these decisions in the hands of a jury, knowing that most people have very limited knowledge of music theory or composition, is just dangerous. It feels like it his could be very bad for music. I appreciate the work done at Berkeley because it seems objective and for the good of music.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        I agree! How could a jury that doesn’t have the ear to pinpoint as to whether this is a blatant slam dunk? They simply can’t. These are simply frivolous lawsuits are all brought by those who own the catalog and are looking for an easy pay-day for their investment.

      • lucy2 says:

        I agree with this. I have zero music ability or training, and I hear convincing similarities between the songs, and the others that have already gone to court. My inclination is yeah, that is ripped off from the other songwriter. An expert would disagree. It does seem like an odd thing for a jury of non-experts to decide, but I don’t know how else it would get handled, and there should be a way to pursue it if someone is stealing another’s work.

  9. og bella says:

    There are but a handful of chords and limited number of chord progressions. Look at this video and just listen to the number of songs that follow the very same chord progression


    • AmyB says:

      Damn – that is pretty crazy how all those songs have the same chord progression!

  10. og bella says:

    Also, I saw on TV this morning a snippet of an interview where Ed had written a song for someone but when he was done, being in this state of mind with the lawsuits, he though one section sounded like a Coldplay song so he called up Chris Martin and had him listen to it.

    Per the interview, Chris said something like, “Nah man. I know the process of song writing. You’re good.”

  11. JM says:

    Okay bye. I skip his songs every time he comes up because he’s a gross person. No loss here.

    • Arizona says:

      why is he a gross person?! I genuinely can’t think of anything controversial or gross he’s done lol.

    • AngryJayne says:

      I feel you.
      He’s annoyed me from the get go and gives off slimy petty vibes.

  12. Inge says:

    fingers, arms, legs&eyes crossed!

  13. kd says:

    Maybe clear your songs, Sir.

  14. nocturne says:

    His grandmother just died also, and he couldn’t go to the funeral because of this court case. He is going THROUGH it.

  15. jazzbaby1 says:

    A couple of years ago The Bellamy Brothers sued Britney Spears and the songwriting team for I don’t remember which song for copyright infringement. The songwriting team counter sued. The Bellamy’s dropped their suit.

    • kirk says:

      Well the verdict’s in on this one. Not a steal. Frankly I’m appalled at co-writer Townsend heirs. First they sell a third of music rights in shares to an entity that’s clearly designed for legal copyright trolling (otherwise what’s their business model except for nada?) and nothing else. Then one of the heirs shows up at the trial blah blah blah about birthright legacy? “Kathryn Townsend Griffin, his daughter, testified during the trial that she thought Sheeran was a great artist with a great future.’ She said she had hoped the lawsuit would not result in a trial, ‘but I have to protect my father’s legacy.'” (CBS News)
      Me: UGH!

      Not a Sheeran partisan; don’t seek out his songs, but don’t change channel when his songs are played on Sirius Hits. Definitely against using courts for legal trolling.

  16. Elliott says:


    Rd Sheeran has settled 6 times already….he lifts from others all the time . It’s a core tool of this song-writing – he has admitted it many times …