Oct 4, 2023 2 min read

Appeal filed in second 'Thinking Out Loud' song-theft case

An appeal has been filed with the US Second Circuit court in relation to the other song-theft case that accuses Ed Sheeran of ripping off ‘Let’s Get It On’ when he wrote ‘Thinking Out Loud’

Appeal filed in second 'Thinking Out Loud' song-theft case

The music company pursuing the other song theft lawsuit in relation to Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' has filed an appeal with the Second Circuit Appeals Court in the US.

Sheeran, of course, has been accused of ripping off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' when he wrote his 2014 hit. He was initially sued by the estate of the co-writer of the Gaye song, Ed Townsend, with the case getting to court earlier this year.

The Sheeran side argued that, while there are similarities between 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'Let's Get It On', that is because they were created using the same musical building blocks. And the musical segments shared between the two songs are not protected by copyright in isolation.

The jury sided with Sheeran in that case. And while the Townsend estate originally planned to appeal that ruling, last month they changed their mind.

However, Sheeran was also sued in relation to the same song-theft claim by a company called Structured Asset Sales, which owns a stake in the 'Let's Get It On' copyright. That lawsuit was dismissed a few weeks after the jury ruled in favour of Sheeran in the other case. But SAS is going through with an appeal, filing papers with the Second Circuit Appeals Court last week.

There are two elements to the appeal. First, there's a common gripe with cases involving older songs, in that - under US law - technically only the version of a work logged with the Copyright Office enjoys protection and, until the late 1970s, only a sheet music version could be logged.

Which is annoying if you think a new song has ripped of elements of an older song that were present in the recording of the older work but not the sheet music.

SAS actually registered 'Let's Get It On' anew with the Copyright Office so it could log the recorded version of the song. But the New York judge considering the case still ruled that only the sheet music version of 'Lets Get It On' could be considered, a ruling SAS reckons should be overturned.

Especially as, in making that ruling, the judge cited judgements in the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, which doesn't have jurisdiction in New York state.

The second element of the appeal deals with the judge's conclusion regarding SAS's actual copyright claim over the similarities between 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'Let's Get It On'.

Concluding, the SAS appeal says that all the decisions made in the lower court should be reversed and "the case should be remanded to the District Court with instructions to have the case proceed to trial, with appellant’s expert reports restored in full".

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to CMU.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.
Privacy Policy