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  • Writer's pictureDenny Esford

Copyright Infringement Is The Music Industry’s Newest Hit

We’ve seen this before. Big time music star gets sued by a lesser known band for copying that band’s song and turning it into a million dollar hit. These cases are becoming almost commonplace lately, and this past week another lawsuit was filed. Ed Sheeran is being sued for copyright infringement; specifically, for his popular song “Photograph.”

At this point, it almost doesn’t come as a surprise that another major player in the music industry has been accused of infringement. In the past few years, we have seen multiple cases similar to this one, with mixed outcomes. The surprise has been that the court occasionally finds for the plaintiff. Most notably are the cases of Marvin Gaye’s Estate v. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, and Led Zeppelin. Thicke and Pharrell were accused of copying Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up” when composing “Blurred Lines,” and after listening to the music, a court agreed. Similarly, Led Zeppelin was recently sued for pulling from a song by the band Taurus while writing “Stairway to Heaven,” arguably one of their biggest hits. Testimony began this week, so the outcome is still unclear.

Here, Sheeran’s song is said to be too similar to the song “Amazing” by Matt Cardle. The suit was brought by the Cardle’s composers, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard. They claim that Sheeran copied extensively from “Amazing,” specifically the chorus. The lawsuit itself states: “‘Photograph’ share 39 identical notes – meaning the notes are identical in pitch, rhythmic duration, and placement in the measure.”

The suit was just filed recently, so it will still be a good amount of time until we have a ruling, if it even makes it to court. It’s possible Sheeran will settle out of court with the writers, and may even agree to pay them royalties to continue playing his song. In the meantime, it is worth your time to give the songs a listen. You may agree that “Photograph” does sound similar to “Amazing.”

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