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Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” Plagiarism Lawsuit Settled
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Summary: Ed Sheeran has settled an IP lawsuit with two writers who claim he plagiarized the song, “Photograph.”

“And if you hurt me/That’s okay baby, only words bleed...” Ed Sheeran crooned in his 2014 hit song, “Photograph.” But after a recent settlement with two songwriters, it is safe to say Sheeran’s wallet is probably bleeding too.


Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard sued the ginger-haired pop star for $20 million in 2016, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, last Friday, the copyright infringement lawsuit was dismissed after Sheeran and the two accusers came to an undisclosed agreement.

Sheeran, 26, and his cowriter, Snow Patrol star Johnny McDaid, were represented by attorneys Michael Niborski and Ilene Farkas at Pryor Cashman. Sheeran is best known for his distinctive look–a goofy sweet smile and tousled red hair, and he is often seen performing with a guitar. Besides “Photograph,” his other hits include “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud.”

In their lawsuit, Harrington and Leonard claimed that “Photograph” stole elements from their 2009 song “Amazing,” which was recorded by Matt Cardle, the winner of the talent reality TV show The X Factor. Cardle’s version disappointed on the British charts while Sheeran’s song hit number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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The two songwriters have created other songs for notable UK talent such as Kylie Minogue, 5ive and Emma Bunton. In their lawsuit, they accused Sheeran of being part of an American scheme to steal their work.

The songwriters were represented by Richard Busch, who has made a name for himself as an intellectual property attorney in the entertainment business. Before this settlement, he famously represented Marvin Gaye’s estate in their lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The Gaye family had accused Thicke and Williams of plagiarizing Marvin Gaye’s song for their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.” The family initially won damages to the tune of $7.3 million, but that amount was later reduced by a judge to $3.2 million.

In the “Photograph” lawsuit, the songwriters said that Sheeran’s version contained “note-for-note copying,” and they supplied sheet music as evidence.

“This copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying, makes up nearly one-half of Photograph, and raises the case to the unusual level of strikingly similar copying,” the lawsuit said.

In response, Sheeran’s defense team filed multiple motions to dismiss, stating that the plaintiff’s complaints had paragraphs that were too long.

In January, the case was allowed to move forward by U.S. District Judge James Selna, who said that written bulkiness was not enough of a reason to throw out the case.

On Friday, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, and the courts agreed to handle enforcement.

Cradle was notably not involved with this copyright infringement lawsuit. In 2016, he wrote on Twitter, “Please read news articles closely. This is not my lawsuit. I think @EdSheeran is a genius and 100% deserves his success.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

What do you think about this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.


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