Singer Ed Sheeran has been hit with a lawsuit alleging one of his songs plagiarized a Marvin Gaye classic. The red-haired songwriter’s 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud,” is the target of a complaint filed by the family of the late Ed Townsend. Townsend co-wrote and composed Gaye’s 1973 single “Let’s Get it On.”
According to the copyright infringement suit obtained by Reuters, Sheeran’s song steals the “heart” of the late Gaye’s song, lifting key components of the ’70s tune.
“The Defendants copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking,’ ” the complaint said. “The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of ‘Thinking’ are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.’ ”
Though the lawsuit was just filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York Aug. 9, Boyz II Men alluded to the similarities of the songs in 2015. At a concert last August, the group performed a mashup of “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let’s Get It On.”
In the clip, the group began to play Sheeran’s song as member Nathan Morris remarked, “Let’s see if you can sing it with the right words, let’s see how it goes.”
The group launched into “Thinking” before Morris said, “So here’s how the original Motown song goes.”
Boyz performed “Let’s,” and for a period before, Shawn Stockman engaged in playful banter with Morris.
After the band jokingly bickered over which song interrupted the other, Morris said, “You and Ed Sheeran were singing a Marvin Gaye song.”
They also pointed out the lawsuit against “Blurred Lines” singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams filed by Gaye’s family.
Atlanta Black Star reported in 2013 the performers initially launched a suit against the family to prove their song did not infringe on the copyright for Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” Gaye’s relatives fired back with a suit of their own. Last March, Time reported a jury ruled Thicke and Williams’ song copied the Motown singer’s tune. The family was awarded nearly $7.4 million.
Listen to “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let’s Get It On” for alleged similarities below.