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Music expert testifies in Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial

Music expert testifies in Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial
Music expert testifies in Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial 01:52

NEW YORK -- Pop star Ed Sheeran was back in a federal courtroom in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday, accused of stealing from a classic 1970s anthem to create a hit song for himself decades later.

The singer-songwriter says his hit song "Thinking Out Loud" from 2014 was an independent creation and coming up with it had nothing to do with the 1973 Marvin Gaye classic "Let's Get It On."

But the family of Gaye's co-writer, Ed Townsend, says the two tracks have many "striking similarities" that go beyond coincidence.

Elements of the Sheeran song were copied, said Townsend family attorney Ben Crump, and what Crump calls "smoking gun" evidence is video of Sheeran in concert, performing a mash-up of the two songs.

Crump said the performance amounts to a "confession," which Sheeran called not true Tuesday, testifying it's "quite simple to weave in and out of songs" and adding, "I'd be an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that" if guilty.

For most of the day Wednesday, a music expert for the defense lectured on basic building blocks of songwriting.

Kathryn Townsend Griffin, Townsend's daughter and the lead plaintiff, told the court she admires Sheeran and "it didn't have to come to this" but she must protect her father's legacy.

CBS2's Dave Carlin talked about the case with attorney Emily Poler, who handles copyright infringement cases, but is not involved in the one involving Sheeran.

"There's this area that's sort of gray as to whether something is protectable or not ... He must be fairly confident in his position to take this to trial," she said. "And it's being decided by a jury ... I can't predict how they're going to see this case and that's ultimately the test here."

Townsend Griffin seemed to have a fainting spell in court and was taken to a hospital to be checked out. Later, a relative told the judge that she's doing well.

If Sheeran is found liable for copyright infringement, the trial moves to phase two to figure out much in damages he and his labels will pay.

The trial continues Thursday, and it could be wrapped up by week's end.

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