Ed Sheeran Hit With $20M Copyright Suit

He's accused of copying 2012 song by 'X Factor' winner
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2016 6:03 AM CDT

A $20 million lawsuit accuses superstar singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran of "verbatim, note-for-note copying." The lawsuit from songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard alleges Sheeran's "Photograph" is too similar to their 2009 song "Amazing," released by X Factor winner Matt Cardle in 2012. They're represented by the same heavyweight lawyer who, for the family of Marvin Gaye, nabbed $5.3 million plus 50% of publishing and songwriting rights from Robin Thicke's monster hit, "Blurred Lines." In addition to similar chords, the plaintiffs say 70% of Sheeran's chorus is identical to "Amazing" in pitch, rhythmic duration, and note placement—and plenty on social media seem to agree, reports Billboard.

"The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody, and rhythm are clear indicators" and are "instantly recognizable to the ordinary observer," the complaint reads, per the BBC, adding the alleged infringement is "breathtaking in its deliberateness, magnitude, and hubris." The plaintiffs say they tried to settle the dispute privately before filing the suit, which also names co-writer Johnny McDaid of band Snow Patrol, Warner Music, and others, per the Guardian. They're seeking $20 million plus royalties. After "Photograph" was released in 2014, Sheeran rightly predicted it would change his career. The song has sold 3.5 million copies, and Sheeran was named the top Billboard artist in the US last summer. (More music stories.)

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