You Decide: Did Ed Sheeran Rip Off Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On?

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Ed Sheeran was in Manhattan federal court Tuesday morning as the singer said, “Let’s get it on!” over a song dispute.

The estate of songwriter Ed Townsend is suing Sheeran over alleged copyright infringement over Marvin Gaye’s popular “Let’s Get It On” song. Townsend co-wrote the classic song with Gaye in 1973.

Townsend’s family claimed that Sheeran blatantly copied the music, the tempo and melody in the 2014 Grammy-award winning “Thinking Out Loud” track.

Rather than settling, Sheeran vowed to fight it in a trial that will have major implications for the music industry.

Ed Sheeran is being sued over copyright infringement over Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” song. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)


Throw on your headphones and focus on the background tempo, the chords (piano for Gaye / Townsend and guitar for Sheeran) and the overall melody.

First up: “Let’s Get It On”:

Now compare that to Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”:

Well, they do kind of sound a bit similar.

Let’s take it a step further. Listen to this mash-up (which by the way, sounds AWESOME)


It also may not help that Sheeran occasionally would improvise “Thinking Out Loud” live by including “Let’s Get It On.” You can be sure the plaintiff’s lawyers are going to grill Sheeran, who is expected take the stand during the expected two-week trial on his decision to do so.

Townsend’s estate claimed that Sheeran’s 2014 song has “striking similarities” and “overt common elements” that violate their father’s music copyright.

Jurors were instructed not to consider the lyrics or the overall feelings of the song. Instead they will focus on the melody, harmony and rhythm documented on the official sheet music by the United States Patent and Trademark Office is too similar to Sheeran’s music.


Speaking with reporters before Tuesday’s trial, Townsend’s daughter said she was protecting her father’s intellectual property and that it has nothing to do with a financial incentive.

Sheeran’s attorneys argued that pop music is pop for a reason – it’s popular. But a jury will have to determine if that meant Sheeran purposely stole the sound.

“The two songs share versions of a similar and unprotectable chord progression that was freely available to all songwriters,” Ed’s lawyer’s said in a court filing.

If Sheeran is found liable, the ramifications would be huge for the music world as SO many songs sound alike. It would also hurt artists and bands that sometimes adlib with songs during live performances, remixes and in mash-ups.

Coincidentally, Marvin Gaye’s family won a huge lawsuit over Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I.’s 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines.” A jury awarded Gaye’s family $5.3 million after it was found that the song was too similar to Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

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