Ed Sheeran Says He’s ‘Done’ With Music if He Loses Marvin Gaye Copyright Infringement Case

Ed Sheeran Marvin Gaye
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Ed Sheeran Marvin Gaye
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Photo Credit: Drew de Fawkes / CC by 2.0

Ed Sheeran expressed the toll the Marvin Gaye copyright infringement case has had on him, saying he’s “done” with music if he loses.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who returned to the stand once again on Monday to testify for a Manhattan jury, says he’ll be “stopping” music if he’s found liable for ripping off Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

Sheeran’s attorney Ilene Farkas asked him what would happen if the trial didn’t go his way, should the plaintiffs be awarded ownership of the chord progression in his song, “Thinking Out Loud.” 

“If that happens, I’m done — I’m stopping,” the 32-year-old Sheeran responded. “I find it really insulting to work my whole life as a singer-songwriter” only to have someone listen to one of his songs and then “diminish it by saying I stole it.”

Last week when the federal trial began, Sheeran’s lawyer questioned him about his live performances and the writing of his song, “Thinking Out Loud,” parts of which he stands accused of copying from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic. But Sheeran has denied lifting anything from Gaye’s song.

Sheeran performed a snippet of “Thinking Out Loud” during his testimony last week. On Monday, he strummed his guitar while singing various mashups of songs for the courtroom — featuring the four-chord sequence that he allegedly lifted from Gaye’s song. These included renditions of some Van Morrison songs, Elvis Presley’s version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” to demonstrate the prevalence of the chord progression in popular music.

Amy Wadge, Sheeran’s co-writer on “Thinking Out Loud,” told jurors she thought the song sounded more like Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and that Marvin Gaye’s song never entered her mind while writing Sheeran’s track.

“Once we had written and Ed started playing it (over) the phone, we both said it was a Van (Morrison) song,” said Wadge. “It had the same sort of feel as a Van Morrison song.”

Sheeran became visibly irritated under cross-examination by plaintiff attorney Robert Frank about his writing collaborations with other artists and how he plays his music.

“Me personally, I know what I’m playing on guitar,” said Sheeran. 

If the jury rules against Sheeran, a second trial will determine what damages are owed to plaintiff Kathryn Townsend Griffin and her family.