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Jury selection begins in copyright infringement lawsuit over Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud"

Jury selection in Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial
Jury selection in Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial 02:07

NEW YORK -- The copyright infringement trial of music superstar Ed Sheeran got underway Monday in Manhattan. 

He is being sued for alleged similarities between his song, "Thinking Out Loud," and the classic Marvin Gaye tune, "Let's Get It On."

Sheeran, a 32-year-old English singer songwriter, and the estate of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote "Let's Get It On," are battling the matter out in court.

"This must stop," Townsend's daughter, Kathryn Griffin-Townsend, said last month. "We have enough chaos going on in the world today, besides having to stand here and worry about other people stealing other people's belongings."

Civil right attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Townsend family, says intellectual property being stolen from Black artists has been going on for decades in the music industry. 

"For far too long, Black artists have created, inspired and spread music all around the world. And Ed Townsend's family believes artists', like Mr. Sheeran's, infringement of Black artists is merely another example of artists exploiting the genius and the work of Black singers and songwriters," Crump said.

Last year in the United Kingdom, Sheeran successfully defended himself in a separate case involving his 2017 song "Shape of You." A pair of musicians argued Sheeran's track infringed "particular lines and phrases" of their 2015 song "Oh Why."

The British judge sided with Sheeran.

During that time, Sheeran explained how songwriting leads to unintentional similarities and misunderstandings.

"Coincidence is bound to happen. If 60,000 songs are being released a day on Spotify, that's 22 million songs a year. There are only 12 notes that are available," Sheeran said.

The plaintiffs in that case claim emails were sent within Sheeran's team acknowledging the songs sounded like one another. They ask to be compensated based on the percentage of the song the court decides was copied, even if the chord progression was taking coincidentally.

Sheeran was not present for the current trial's jury selection phase.

If the jury finds Sheeran liable for copyright infringement, the court will hold another trial to determine how much he and his labels should pay. The first trial is expected to last up to a week. 

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