The track, which became the first to spend a full year in the UK top 40 and has been streamed more than 1 billion times on YouTube, became Sheeran’s first number one single, and went on to top charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia and South Africa. It also won song of the year at the 2016 Grammy awards.
An infringement lawsuit has now been filed by Ed Townsend, who composed and co-wrote the lyrics to Let’s Get It On in 1973, according to the complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. Townsend has requested the suit is assessed at a jury trial, and alleges the harmonic progressions, melodic and rhythmic elements central to Gaye’s track formed the structure of Sheeran’s hit.
“The defendants copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout Thinking,” the lawsuit said according to Reuters. “The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of Thinking are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.’”
A spokesperson for Sheeran has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Gaye’s family last year won $7.4m after successfully suing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement over their single Blurred Lines. The attorney Richard Busch, who triumphed on behalf of Gaye’s family, is also representing Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard in another case surrounding Sheeran. The pop songwriters claim Sheeran’s Photograph “note-for-note” copies their 2009 song Amazing which was released as the third single by Matt Cardle, winner of the 2010 season of The X Factor. Sheeran has not publicly responded to that claim.
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