Opening statements were set to occur Tuesday after a jury was chosen in a trial that mashes up Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
The heirs of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer of the 1973 soul classic, sued Sheeran, alleging the English pop star’s hit 2014 tune has “striking similarities” to “Let’s Get It On” and “overt common elements” that violate their copyright.
The lawsuit filed in 2017 has finally made it to a trial that is expected to last up to two weeks in the Manhattan federal courtroom of 95-year-old Judge Louis L. Stanton.
Sheeran, 32, is among the witnesses expected to testify, though he was not in court at the start of jury selection. He was expected to be in court on Tuesday.
“Let’s Get It On” is the sexy slow jam that’s been heard in countless films and commercials and garnered hundreds of millions of streams, spins, and radio plays over the past 50 years. “Thinking Out Loud,” which won a Grammy for Song of the Year, is a much more marital take on love and sex.
While the jury will hear the recordings of both songs, probably many times, their lyrics — and vibes — are legally insignificant. Jurors are supposed only to consider the raw elements of melody, harmony, and rhythm that make up the composition of “Let’s Get It On,” as documented on sheet music filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.