Ed Sheeran ordered to face lawsuit accusing him of plagiarizing "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye

/ CBS News

Ed Sheeran: Changing music

Singer Ed Sheeran must face a lawsuit over allegations he plagiarized Marvin Gaye's 1973 classic "Let's Get it On" for his 2014 hit "Thinking Out Loud," a judge has ruled.

Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton rejected the English songwriter's request to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by 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."

Stanton found listeners may find the "aesthetic appeal" of the songs to be the same, and that jurors may be impressed "by footage of a Sheeran performance which shows him seamlessly transitioning between [the songs.]"

Sheeran has denied copying from Gaye, and his defense has reportedly argued the songs have differences in "total concept and feel." "Thinking Out Loud" is characterized by "somber, melancholic tones, addressing long lasting romantic love" while "Let's Get It On" is a "sexual anthem," they reportedly contend.

Sheeran, 27, faces a similar suit brought by Structured Asset Sales LLC, which owns a third of Townsend's estate, and has also faced infringement claims over his song "Photograph."

Singer Robin Thicke has also faced accusations he copied Gaye's work. In 2015, a federal jury found Thicke and Pharrell Williams lifted from Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up" for their 2013 song "Blurred Lines." The trial ended with jurors awarding Gaye's family $7.4 million, though that was later trimmed to $5.3 million.

First published on January 4, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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