A judge in a Manhattan district court has rejected Ed Sheeran's request to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that the British singer plagiarized Marvin Gaye's 1973 classic "Let's Get it On" to write his 2014 hit, "Thinking Out Loud"

By Jordan Runtagh
January 04, 2019 01:40 PM
Ed Sheeran; Marvin Gaye
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images; Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A judge in a Manhattan district court has rejected Ed Sheeran‘s request to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that the British singer plagiarized Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On” to write his 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud.”

In a decision made public on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton announced that he will put the case between Sheeran and the estate of the song’s late cowriter, Ed Townsend, to a jury.

Stanton noted “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements,” according to a Reuters report, specifically in relation to the percussion, bass and rhythmic elements. He suggested that juries “would be impressed” by concert footage of Sheeran “seamlessly transitioning” between the two songs.

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

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This is not the first time the accusation has been made. In 2016 Sheeran was sued by the family of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the song with Gaye, but the case was ultimately dismissed the following year. After the Townsend family has sold a third of their shares in “Let’s Get It On” to  Structured Asset Sales, the organization relaunched the suit in June for a reported  $100 million.

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At present, it remains unclear whether the Gaye family will enter the legal fray. The descendants of the late “What’s Going On” singer famously took on Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. over their 2013 smash “Blurred Lines,” which they believed resembled Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” The courts agreed, with Thicke and Williams recently ordered to pay the family close to $5 million.

Others have alleged similarities between Sheeran and Gaye’s songs. In 2016, during Boyz II Men’s 25th-anniversary show in New Jersey, the group pointed out the apparent likeness between the tracks as they started a cover of “Let’s Get It On” before transitioning into “Thinking Out Loud.”

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Sheeran’s dealt with similar legal troubles in the recent past, having been sued over his song “Photograph” in June 2016.

Songwriters Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard filed a lawsuit alleging that Sheeran’s song sounded too similar to “Amazing,” a tune they had written for British X Factor winner Matt Cardle in 2011. Harrington and Leonard sought a jury trial and damages in excess of $20 million, as well as royalties. The case was settled privately out of court in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.

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