Watch Ed Sheeran Discuss “Thinking Out Loud” Copyright Trial on CBS Sunday Morning
Ed Sheeran recently appeared on the CBS Sunday Morning program to promote his new album—and discuss the recent resolution of the copyright lawsuit over his 2014 song “Thinking Out Loud.” In an interview with Seth Doane, Sheeran discussed the case, his new album, his body image, and more. Check it out below.
Doane commenced the interview by asking Sheeran how it felt to endure the lawsuit. “I just think it comes with the territory,” Sheeran said. He later added: “There’s like four chords that get used in pop songs. And if you just think mathematically the likelihood of this song having the same chords as this song—there’s multiple, multiple songs—it’s all the same four chords … you are going to get this with every single pop song from now on. Unless it just stops, which I don’t think it does because it’s a big money business to take things to court. But you can only get caught out if you’ve done something wrong, and I have not done something wrong. I used four chords that are very common cords to use.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Sheeran discussed his new album, a new Disney+ docuseries about him titled The Sum of It All, and recent personal struggles including a friend’s death and his wife’s health issues. When Doane asked Sheeran about lyrics that seem to point to being uncomfortable in his own skin, Sheeran responded: “Yeah. But that’s the human. You’re talking to the artist right now,” Sheeran said. “The artist who can stand on stage in front of 110,000 people in Melbourne is not the same person that has anxiety and insecurity and depression.”
Doane also asked Sheeran how much he cares about what is written about his music. “I used to care a lot,” Sheeran said, “because I spent my whole life trying to become successful.” He continued: “But you’re not always going to be everything to everyone. Like I’ve never really been a critical darling, but I don’t know, I think it’s more challenging to write pop music than any other kind of music.”
The “Thinking Out Loud” lawsuit was first filed in 2016 by the family of Ed Townsend, Marvin Gaye’s co-writer on “Let’s Get It On,” shortly after the judgement in the Gaye estate’s suit against Pharrell and Robin Thicke over “Blurred Lines.” The plaintiffs alleged Sheeran plagiarized elements of “Let’s Get It On” for “Thinking Out Loud.” The trial date was delayed in 2019 when a Manhattan district judge in order to wait for results in a similar copyright case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Led Zeppelin ultimately won their case, in which the judge ruled that plaintiffs must prove that a work is “virtually identical” to their own in order to prove infringement.
In 2016 Sheeran was sued by two songwriters who accused him of copying parts of one of their songs for his song “Photograph.” In 2017 he settled the lawsuit and credited Harrington and Leonard as co-writers. Just last year Sheeran successfully defeated allegations of plagiarism involving his song “Shape of You.”
Read “Ed Sheeran Finally Seems Useful” on the Pitch.