A new judicial order relating to the “Thinking Out Loud” copyright infringement lawsuit is forcing singer Ed Sheeran to reveal his concert revenue and expenses.
Multiple plaintiffs are currently suing Sheeran over his hit song, believing that it infringes on Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” which was written by the late songwriter Ed Townsend. Pursuant to this, the plaintiffs are demanding to know just how much money Sheeran has earned from performances of the song. This includes not just ticket sales but also merchandise sold during the shows.
Donald Zakarin, who is Sheeran’s lawyer, made a number of arguments against making the disclosure. He first argued that there was no “causal nexus” between concert income and the claimed infringement. But he also insisted that Sheeran had a right to perform “Thinking Out Loud” even if it infringed on “Let’s Get It On” because of blanket performance licenses Sheeran had from the organization that holds the rights to Gaye’s song.
The judge in the case — U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton — agreed with the plaintiffs and granted their request.
In his ten-page opinion, the judge is requiring Sheeran to provide financial data about his concerts, including revenue and expenses.
He wrote, “[T]he defendants’ argument lacks a foundation. There is no ‘right’ to infringe. BMI’s and ASCAP’s blanket and venue licenses could not grant a right to infringe, for there never was one. Absent inapplicable exceptions, neither the author nor any licensee of an infringing work has the right to perform it publicly.”
The judge went on to say, “BMI’s and ASCAP’s blanket licenses conveyed to licensees the authors’ rights to perform their songs. They did not convey the consent of any author to play music which infringes his songs. And the licenses do not transform an infringing work into one that could not, as a matter of law, be infringing.”
Accordingly, some are now wondering if Sheeran loses the suit, whether he will even have the right to perform one of his biggest hits.