Ed Sheeran at the Centre of Copyright Infringement Case

Sheeran’s single ‘Photograph was a top 10 hit in the US, and the official music video has been viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube. It is now at the centre of a $20 million lawsuit.

Songwriters Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles, alleging Sheeran’s 2014 summer hit copies their song ‘Amazing’ which was released in 2012 by former X factor winner Matt Cardle.

Harrington and Leonard have written tracks for the likes of Kylie Minogue. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Richard Bush, who also represented the family of Marvin Gaye on the high-profile “Blurred Lines” copyright case, which settled last year for $5.3 million.

Busch commented: “My clients are professional songwriters, their work is their life, and I am honoured that they have trusted me with this very important case.”

Matt Cardle is not a party to the lawsuit. He tweeted the following to his 866,000 followers:

“Please read news articles closely. This is not my lawsuit. I think @edsheeran is a genius & 100% deserves all his success”.

Sheeran, along with Johnny McDaid, Sony/ATV Songs, Warner Music and Polar Patrol Music Publishing are all named as defendants in the lawsuit. According to the complaint Sheeran’s song “is the most valuable of all of the assets of Polar Patrol, and increased the price of the sale. The profits of the Defendants that the Planitiffs are entitled to recover thus include the portion of Polar Patrol’s sale price that may be attributable to the inclusion of the infringing ‘Photograph’ composition.”

The lawsuit reads “The chorus sections of Amazing and the infringing Photograph share 39 identical notes- meaning the notes are identical in pitch, rhythmic duration, and placement in the measure.

The song’s similarities reach the very essence of the work. The similarities go beyond substantial, which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking.

The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody, and rhythm are clear indicators, among other things, that Photograph copies Amazing.”

The lawsuit further continued that Photograph “copied, and exploited, without authorisation or credit, the work of other active, professional songwriters, on a breathtaking scale, unabashedly taking credit for the work of these songwriters by claiming it to be their own.”

Harrington and Leonard are seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $20 million, along with an injunction or running royalties from the song. ‘Photograph’ was recently licensed for the “Me Before You” soundtrack.

Sheeran’s representatives declined to comment.


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