A lawyer for the heirs of Marvin Gaye’s co-writer of the song “Let’s Get It On” told jurors at the start of a civil trial Tuesday that he has “smoking gun” proof that Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” violates the copyright of the soul classic.
Attorney Ben Crump, representing heirs of Ed Townsend, said in his opening statement that the English pop star merged the two songs in concert and jurors will get to see it.
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He said merging the song was tantamount to “a confession.”
“We have a smoking gun,” he said of the concert footage showing Sheeran flipping between the two songs.
Crump said the case was about “giving credit where credit is due.”
Sheeran, 32, looked on as his lawyer, Ilene Farkas, insisted that Sheeran and a cowriter, Amy Wadge, wrote their song independently and did not steal from Townsend and Gaye.
She said they “created this heartfelt song without copying ‘Let’s Get It On.’”
The chord progression and basic music building blocks in Sheeran’s song are frequently used, and didn’t appear first in “Let’s Get it On,” his lawyer said.
“Let’s Get It On” has been heard in countless films and commercials and garnered hundreds of millions of streams, spins and radio plays since it came out in 1973. “Thinking Out Loud” won a Grammy for song of the year in 2016.
The lawsuit was filed in 2017. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.
Townsend, who also wrote the 1958 R&B doo-wop hit “For Your Love,” was a singer, songwriter and lawyer. He died in 2003. Kathryn Townsend Griffin, his daughter, is the plaintiff leading the lawsuit.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article.