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Ed Sheeran says copyright trial betrayed unspoken solidarity within songwriting community

Ed Sheeran has voiced frustration over his recent copyright infringement lawsuit, suggesting the trial was a betrayal within the songwriting community.

On Thursday (4 May), Sheeran won his Marvin Gaye plagiarism case, after he was sued by the heirs of Ed Townsend, the songwriter who composed the 1973 slow jam classic “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye.

They accused Sheeran’s 2014 song, “Thinking Out Loud”, of copying the anthem’s harmonic progressions as well as melodic and rhythmic elements without permission.

Sheeran had vehemently denied the accusations, with his lawyers arguing that the song uses common constructions found in many pop tracks.

Speaking with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, the four-time Grammy-winning artist posed that the trial was an attack on the basic nature of musical creation.

“The thing with these cases, it’s not usually songwriters that are suing songwriters. I mean sometimes it is, but it’s not,” Sheeran stated in an exclusive clip from Lowe’s radio show, shared with Rolling Stone.

“I feel like in the songwriting community, everyone sort of knows that there’s four chords primarily that are used and there’s eight notes. And we work with what we’ve got, with doing that.”

Ed Sheeran pictured outside court (Getty Images)
Ed Sheeran pictured outside court (Getty Images)

Giving an example, Sheeran recalled writing Keith Urban’s 2018 song “Parallel Line”, which the former admitted “sounded like a Coldplay song”.

“So I emailed Chris Martin and I said, ‘This sounds like your tune. Can we clear it?’ And he went, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. No,’” the “Perfect” singer remembered.

“And on the song I made sure they put, ‘I think it sounds like “Everglow,” Coldplay.’ But he was just like, ‘Nah, I know how songs are written. And I know you didn’t go into the studio and go, I want to write this.’

Sheeran said: “I would just never do it. I’d just never do it. I feel like if people felt that they had, would come to me. And I’ve cleared songs for people that have come.”

Follow along here for real-time updates on Sheeran’s copyright trial.