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In light of the recent Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial, it’s worth seeing this again

Last Thursday, a Manhattan jury acquitted Ed Sheeran on charges that he stole “significant elements” of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for his megahit, “Thinking Out Loud.” Much of the plaintiff’s case seem to rely on the contention that the two songs share similar chord progression.

There are several things you cannot copyright or claim exclusive intellectual property rights over: (1) Song titles. (2) A beat (think Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”). (3) Chord progressions (and by extension, guitar riffs which, for the most part, are really a form of chord progression).

Chord progressions are foundational to music composition. They are fundamental building blocks of modern music. For someone to claim that they own such a combination of notes is insane.

To prove this point, it’s instructive to post this Axis of Awesome video. The next time you play the “hey-this-song-sound-that-that-song-so-it-must-be-a-rip-off” game, remember this video. (Via HTFT)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38439 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “In light of the recent Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial, it’s worth seeing this again

  • Hi Alan. I’ve busking since I turned 18. That was 1979. I’m glad Ed won his case.
    It was a no brainer from the start.
    I hope it deters people from launching more like it. Music is to be shared.

    Reply

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