Ed Sheeran Faces $20 Million Copyright Lawsuit over 'Photograph'

Two songwriters claim Ed Sheeran's hit song bears a "striking similarity" to a tune they wrote for an X Factor winner

Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/Getty

brightcove.createExperiences(); Two songwriters have sued Ed Sheeran for more than $20 million, claiming that the British singer’s hit song “Photograph” bears a “striking similarity” to a song they penned for a onetime winner of The X Factor, according to multiple reports.

Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Wednesday, alleging Sheeran’s hit sounds suspiciously similar to a 2012 song released by British singer Matt Cardle, who won the seventh season of X Factor. They’re seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $20 million, as well as royalties from the song.

According to Harrington and Leonard, the chorus of Sheeran’s “Photograph” and Cardle’s “Amazing” share 39 identical notes. They also claim the two songs utilize similar overall structures, melodic rhythms and harmonies. Included in the court documents is a side-by-side comparison of the written composition of the songs.

“Photograph” was a top 10 hit in the U.S, for Sheeran, and the official music video has been viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube.

Co-defendants in the suit include “Photograph” co-writer and Snow Patrol pianist and guitarist Johnny McDaid, as well as several music publishers and the record label, Warner Music Group.

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The songwriters are represented by Nashville attorney Richard Busch, who memorably helped Marvin Gaye‘s family win a multi-million dollar copyright lawsuit over Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit single “Blurred Lines.”

“My clients are professional songwriters,” Busch said in a statement, per NBC News. “Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.”

A rep for Sheeran had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.

This month has so far seen several copyright infringement lawsuits making headlines.

Beyoncé was accused of stealing the trailer for her album Lemonade from a short film titled Palinoia, Billboard reports.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Madonna won an ongoing case against her 1990 song “Vogue” claiming it sampled a “horn hit” from the song “Love Break” without permission. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California ruled that the 0.23-second snippet used in “Vogue” was de minimis, or small enough to be trivial.

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