“Let’s Get It On”…in court!
Apparently, we have another lawsuit involving Marvin Gaye on our hands, y’all.
We all know the legendary reputation of Gaye’s estate when it comes to having no tolerance for copyright infringement (Robin Thicke, we’re looking at you), but this lawsuit isn’t actually a product of the litigious-prone estate for the late singer. In fact, this lawsuit has been brought to the table by the family of “Let’s Get It On” co-writer, Ed Townsend. Townsend, who co-wrote the 1973 hit single with Gaye, died in August 2003 at the age of 74.
According to ABC News, Townsend’s family filed a lawsuit against pop artist Ed Sheeran, alleging that his hit song “Thinking Out Loud” features “melody, harmony and rhythmic components” of Gaye’s iconic song. The 2016 filing accuses Sheeran and Sony/Atlantic Records of copyright infringement. In 2019, a U.S. judge ordered Sheeran to appear in court for the claims after rejecting Sheeran’s request to dismiss.
“These offenses aren’t just taking place in the streets against Black individuals in this country. They’re taking place in the boardrooms. They’re taking place in meetings where there’s no representation,” Keisha Rice, attorney for Ed’s daughter Kathryn Townsend, said in front of Sony Records in Culver City, Calif. on Tuesday.
“Theft and bullying has been the only priority of the record labels’ agenda. It stops today, Sony, Atlantic and all the rest of them. We’re coming for our 40 acres and a mule plus interest. And know that we’re not going to be silent. It don’t stop till my casket drop,” Kathryn added.
More info on the matter via ABC News:
Sheeran responded to the suit when it was first filed, reportedly claiming the chord progressions and drum patterns for “Let’s Get It On” were extremely commonplace, in the public domain and unprotectable.
The lawsuit has been filed in the southern district of New York and has a trial date of Nov. 9. Townsend’s estate is seeking songwriting credit and a portion of the revenue Sheeran’s song has made since it was released in 2014.
“Theft of the music is the new sharecroppers,” Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton, who joined Kathryn on Tuesday, said. “Not only do they take the music and the land back; they take the 40 acres and the mule back. They get it all from the money that’s being made from IP (intellectual property). So the artists don’t have a chance. I have 20 artists in my band who never got paid for all those samples you heard.”
According to The Guardian, this is not the only time Sheeran has been sued in connection to “Let’s Get It On” and “Thinking Out Loud.” In 2018, Structured Asset Sales (which owns part of the copyright of “Let’s Get It On”) filed a lawsuit against Sheeran, demanding $100 million.
The trial for Townsend’s lawsuit is scheduled to begin in November.