Just when you thought it was over, another copyright infringement lawsuit involving a Marvin Gaye song is set for trial. The dust had barely settled on the infamous “Blurred Lines” case when a second suit, this time targeting world-famous pop star Ed Sheeran, took another step closer to trial. Similar to the prior case, the battleground being fought over is the “feel” and “style” of the song — elements that were long presumed to be unprotectable from a copyright standpoint. These recent developments have found many artists and content creators — including marketers and their agencies — concerned that musical ground long considered “safe” may now be off-limits.
The suit against Sheeran claims that his hit “Thinking Out Loud” infringes Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get It On.” In January 2019, a court ruled that there were enough similarities between the two songs for the case to proceed to a jury trial. The ruling came less than a month after Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay Gaye’s estate $4.9 million as the final step in a years-long saga that reached its crescendo when a jury found “Blurred Lines,” the worldwide hit written by Thicke and Williams, had infringed Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” Continue Reading