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Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud Lawsuit: The Full Story So Far

Ed Sheeran leaving court in New York on Tuesday
Ed Sheeran leaving court in New York on Tuesday

Ed Sheeran leaving court in New York on Tuesday

Ed Sheeran has been back in court this past week, over a lawsuit relating to his 2014 hit single Thinking Out Loud.

The Grammy-winning musician’s legal troubles have been in the headlines thanks to the presence of a big name lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Ed whipping out his guitar and treating those present to a musical interlude and, at one point, the judge warning the jurors against dancing in court.

So, what exactly is going on with Ed Sheeran, Marvin Gaye and Thinking Out Loud? Here’s the story so far…

First of all…  which one is Thinking Out Loud again?

You know Thinking Out Loud, folks. It was the third single from Ed’s sophomore album, X, and reached number one in 2014.

It was also nominated for three Grammys (including wins for Best Pop Solo Performance and one of the night’s top prizes, Song Of The Year), and set a new record as the first single in history to spend an entire year in the UK top 40.

Ed Sheeran performing at the Grammys in 2015
Ed Sheeran performing at the Grammys in 2015

Ed Sheeran performing at the Grammys in 2015

It’s currently the 13th most-streamed song in history in the UK (Ed’s songs actually make up a quarter of the top 20, with Perfect, Shape Of You, Bad Habits and Castle On The Hill also making the cut).

“Take me into your loving arms,” Ed sings on the chorus. “Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars, place your head on my beating heart, I’m thinking out loud, maybe we found love right where we are.”

Yeah, that one. He’s wearing a waistcoat and doing ballroom dancing in the music video. Up to speed? Good, let’s continue.

So, why is Ed Sheeran being sued over Thinking Out Loud?

He’s being sued over allegations that Thinking Out Loud violates the copyright of the Marvin Gaye classic Let’s Get It On (you definitely know that one).

Marvin Gaye performing in London in 1976
Marvin Gaye performing in London in 1976

Marvin Gaye performing in London in 1976

Of course, the chart-topping star is no stranger to court cases, having previously faced a lawsuit over accusations he and his co-writers ripped off the 2015 single Oh Why by Sam Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue on Ed’s signature tune Shape Of You.

In that instance, the judge ruled in Ed’s favour, stating that the writing team had neither “deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a section of Oh Why while creating their tune.

Who is suing Ed Sheeran this time around?

The Thinking Out Loud lawsuit has been brought about by the heirs of the late music producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Marvin Gaye in the early 70s.

Although this lawsuit was actually filed in 2017, it’s only now reached court, in a trial that’s expected to last around two weeks, with one week already done.

The late musician’s daughter, Kathryn Townsend Griffin, has been in court this week, where she’s being represented in the case by Benjamin Crump.

Crump specialises in cases of civil rights, and has previously served as the legal representative for the families of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of songwriter Ed Townsend, leaving court with att Benjamin Crump
Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of songwriter Ed Townsend, leaving court with att Benjamin Crump

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, the daughter of songwriter Ed Townsend, leaving court with att Benjamin Crump

What have the plaintiffs said?

In his opening statement, Crump said he had a “smoking gun” in the form of a mash-up performance of Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get It On, which Ed performed at a concert years earlier.

Crump went as far as claiming the performance basically amounted to a “confession”, while stating that the case is about “giving credit where credit is due”.

Meanwhile, one fun detail in this came on the first day of the trial, when the judge had to warn the jury that although music will be played over the course of the trial, “we don’t allow dancing”.

And what has Ed Sheeran himself has said in court?

Well, so far, it’s been an eventful week for Ed.

Of course, he has outright denied the accusations levelled against him, with his legal team insisting in their own opening statement that he and co-writer Amy Wadge “created this heartfelt song without copying Let’s Get It On”.

But it was Thursday’s day in court that proved to be the most eventful.

An hour (an hour!) into his testimony, Ed was grilled specifically about his songwriting technique, when he reached behind him for his guitar.

Ed Sheeran arriving in court
Ed Sheeran arriving in court

Ed Sheeran arriving in court

I’m singing out loud,” he sang at one point, before later launching into the opening line of Thinking Out Loud, accompanying himself on the guitar: “When your legs don’t work like they used to.”

However, perhaps wisely, he chose to cut the performance short after just that one line. Good thing everyone had already been warned not to dance by the judge, eh?

The PA news agency reported that the Shape Of You star then bumped his hand against the witness stand microphone, prompting a quick apology.

Ed also claimed during his testimony that songwriting comes naturally to him, revealing last weekend alone he penned 10 new songs.

Does anyone else have Thinking Out Loud stuck in their heads after all that?

Yes. And Let’s Get It On, for that matter. Give them both a listen for yourself below:

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