Ed Sheeran sued for $20m over song ‘copycat’ claims

Ed Sheeran is being sued for more than $20m for allegedly copying a song released by X Factor winner Matt Cardle.

A lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles federal court claims Sheeran’s 2014 hit ‘Photograph’ infringes the copyright of Cardle’s 2012 single ‘Amazing’.

Lawyer Richard Busch, who recently won on behalf of Marvin Gaye’s family in a copyright case over Robin Thicke’s hit ‘Blurred Lines’, is representing ‘Amazing’ songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard.

“The similarities go beyond substantial, which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking,” according to the lawsuit.

“The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody and rhythm are clear indicators, among other things, that ‘Photograph’ copies ‘Amazing’.”

According to court papers posted online, the lawsuit states that the choruses of ‘Amazing’ and ‘Photograph’ share 39 identical notes.

Sheeran will have to answer the charges alongside his ‘Photograph’ co-writer, Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid, as well as other co-defendants including Sony/ATV Songs, Warner Music and Polar Patrol Music Publishing.

Cardle, who won the ITV talent show in 2010, is not a party to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim that the team behind ‘Photograph’ were aware of Cardle’s single. 

The lawsuit states: “Given the striking similarity between the chorus of ‘Amazing’ and ‘Photograph’, (the) defendants knew when writing, publishing, recording, releasing, and distributing Photograph that they were infringing on a pre-existing musical composition.

“The conduct of (the) defendants has been wilful from the inception of the creation of Photograph.”

It adds: “The copying of ‘Amazing’ by ‘Photograph’ is breathtaking in its deliberateness, magnitude, and hubris.”

Parts of both songs are transcribed in the court papers to demonstrate alleged similarities.

The parallels are also said to be “instantly recognisable to the ordinary observer”, with the songwriters saying the alleged copying makes up “nearly one half” of Sheeran’s single.

The Brit Award-nominated single is also featured on the soundtrack for new movie Me Before You.

Country music star Keith Urban has previously said he fell in love with ‘Photograph’ at Wembley Stadium watching “everybody in the audience sing along”.

Harrington and Leonard claim that while Sheeran and his co-defendants have received “career-defining accolades, awards, and a fortune” for ‘Photograph’, they have received nothing.

The suit states: “Little did Mr Urban or the crowd know, they were singing along to the ‘Amazing’ chorus written by Harrington and Leonard.


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