A judge has rejected English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran's request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of lifting from Marvin Gaye's 1973 classic "Let's Get It On" for his 2014 smash "Thinking Out Loud."
In a decision made public on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan said a jury should decide whether Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records should be liable to the estate and heirs of the late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote "Let's Get It On" with Gaye.
Stanton found "substantial similarities between several of the two works' musical elements," including their bass lines and percussion, and said it was in dispute whether the harmonic rhythm of "Let's Get It On" was too common to deserve copyright protection.
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He also said ordinary listeners might view the songs' "aesthetic appeal" as the same, despite defense arguments that "Thinking Out Loud" was characterized by "somber, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love" while "Let's Get It On" was a "sexual anthem" radiating positive emotions.