A jury will decide whether British pop star Ed Sheeran is guilty of copying parts of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for his Grammy-award winning hit “Thinking Out Loud.”
In his decision made public Thursday, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton refused to grant Sheeran’s request to throw out the lawsuit, which has been brought by the estate and heirs of the late producer Ed Townsend who co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye, according to a Reuters report.
“Thinking Out Loud” was released on Sheeran’s “X” album in 2014 and won two Grammys in 2015, while Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” single reached number one on the U.S. Billboard chart in 1973.
Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements,” and said a jury should decide whether Sheeran and labels Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records infringe copyright.
Sheeran was originally sued in 2016 by Kathryn Townsend Griffin and other relations of Townsend, and court documents allege that Sheeran and his representatives “copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking’.”
The judge also cited footage of Sheeran performing “Thinking Out Loud,” “which shows him seamlessly transitioning between (the two songs),” Stanton wrote, and the video is set to be played at the trial.
This is the second lawsuit against Sheeran being overseen by Judge Stanton. Structured Asset Sales, founded by banker David Pullman, says it owns part of “Let’s Get It On” and is suing for $100 million.
Paul Williams, a spokesperson at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, declined to comment on the case when contacted by CNBC.