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Ed Sheeran settles copyright suit over hit "Photograph"

LOS ANGELES -- Singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran has settled the copyright suit brought by two other songwriters over his hit song “Photograph.”

The Hollywood Reporter reports court papers were filed Friday but terms of the settlement are not known. Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard filed a lawsuit last June seeking $20 million.

They said “Photograph” was “note-for-note copying” of their song “Amazing,” which had been recorded by Matt Cardle, the winner of the British version of “The X Factor” in 2010.

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Harrington and Leonard’s complaint said Sheeran and his writing partner “copied and exploited... the work of other active, professional songwriters, on a breathtaking scale, unabashedly taking credit for the work of these songwriters...”

The lawsuit alleged that the chorus of “Photograph” and Cardle’s “Amazing” share 39 identical notes. Also included in the court documents was a side-by-side comparison of the written composition of the two songs.

In order to prove their case, the plaintiffs had to “show access -- that there was some exposure of one song to another,” entertainment attorney Ken Abdo told CBS News in 2016.  

The prosecuting attorney in the case, Richard Busch, famously helped Marvin Gaye’s family win a $5.3 million copyright lawsuit over its use in Robin Thicke’s 2013 summer anthem, “Blurred Lines.”

“I think that case has been very influential in getting attorneys interested in pursuing these claims,” said Matt Belloni, executive editor of the Hollywood Reporter, in 2016.

Several high profile copyright infringement claims have followed, involving artists like Sam Smith, Justin Bieber and Led Zeppelin, who are facing a lawsuit over the hit song “Stairway to Heaven” that’s expected to go to trial later this month.

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