(correcting paragraph 6 to say the judgment was published on Tuesday)
by Blake Britten
(Reuters) – British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran on Tuesday defeated a second copyright lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan over similarities between his hit “Thinking Out Loud” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
US District Judge Louis Stanton dismissed the case brought by Structured Asset Sales LLC, ruling that the tracks “Let’s Get It On” Sheeran were alleged to have infringed were too general for copyright protection.
Sheeran earlier this month won a separate jury trial over the songs in the same court.
Stanton presided over both cases, which concerned in part Ed Townsend, co-writer of Gaye’s 1973 classic. Townsend’s heirs failed to convince jurors that Sheeran infringed on their share of Townsend’s copyright in the song.
Structured Asset Sales is owned by investment banker and producer of “Bowie Bonds” David Pullman, and is part of Townsend’s interest in “Let’s Get It On”. Townsend’s heirs sued Sheeran, his label Warner Music Group and his music publisher Sony Music Publishing in 2018 after they filed their lawsuit.
Stanton Tuesday found that the combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm in Gaye’s song was a “basic musical building block” that was too common for copyright protection.
Sheeran’s attorney Ilene Farkas called the decision “an important victory not only for Ed” and collaborator Amy Wadge, “but for all songwriters and consumers of music”.
Structured Asset Sales filed another lawsuit against Sheeran based on the rights to Gaye’s recordings, which is still pending.
Pullman told Reuters that the jury in that case would get to hear a recording of “Let’s Get It On” as opposed to a computerized rendition of the song’s sheet music from the Townsend trial.
Pullman said, “Their biggest fear, with everything they’ve filed, is to prevent the sound recording from coming.”
(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)