Ed Sheeran has appeared in court to defend the songwriting on his smash hit Thinking Out Loud — and the judge warned the jury not to DANCE when they listened to music during the trial.
The British singer is accused of plagiarising Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On.
Sheeran took the witness stand during the copyright trial in New York, and during the hearing, the judge also warned jurors to resist the urge to dance while watching a video of Sheeran performing a medley of the two songs on stage in front of a huge crowd.
“We don’t allow dancing,” U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton warned the seven-member jury, per Reuters.
The heirs of Gaye’s co-writer, Ed Townsend, initially filed the lawsuit against Sheeran in 2017.
The video of the medley of the two hit records is being used as evidence against Sheeran.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that the medley video amounts to a “confession” of plagiarism.
Sheeran’s song was released in 2014 and became the first single to spend a full year in the U.K. top 40 the following year.
Ed Sheeran defends his songwriting in trial
The case alleges that Sheeran and co-writer Amy Wadge copied a four-chord progression and its rhythm.
In court, Sheeran testified that Thinking Out Loud was created by himself and Wadge during a writing session and said the inspiration behind the record was his grandparent’s romance.
The singer offered a counterargument that “Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs … You could go from Let it Be to No Woman, No Cry and switch back,” referring to songs by the Beatles and Bob Marley.
Sheeran fired back at the question and said, “If I had done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.”
When lawyer Keisha Rice cut off the singer, he quipped, “I feel like you don’t want me to answer because you know that what I’m going to say is actually going to make quite a lot of sense.”
According to The Guardian, a musicologist retained by the litigant described the chords in question as “virtually interchangeable,” while the expert for Sheeran argued that the chord sequence is not unique and mentioned other examples of it being used in other songs.
Ed Sheeran has faced plagiarism accusations in the past
In April, Sheeran was accused of plagiarism last year in a dispute over his hit record Shape of You. He won the U.K. court battle after being accused of copying a lesser-known song, Oh Why.
In 2017, he credited the writers of the TLC song No Scrubs for the same record after listeners noticed similarities; however, he did not get sued in that instance.
In the same year, he settled out of court with the writers of Amazing by Matt Cardle over claims he plagiarized the song for his record Photograph.