A US judge has ruled that a jury must decide whether Ed Sheeran copied parts of Marvin Gaye’s Let's Get It On.
District judge Louis Stanton rejected calls by Sheeran’s legal team to drop the lawsuit alleging plagiarism in No.1 Thinking Out Loud. Stanton said he found "substantial similarities between several of the two works' musical elements".
Stanton is also overseeing a separate $100 million lawsuit over the same song by Structured Asset Sales, which owns part of the copyright of Let’s Get It On.
The lawsuit launched by Townsend’s heirs stated: “The defendants copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout Thinking. The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of Thinking are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.’”
Stanton noted that live footage showed Sheeran “seamlessly transitioning” between the songs.
The defence team has argued that Thinking Out Loud is different because it has "sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long lasting romantic love" while Let's Get It On is a "sexual anthem".
Thinking Out Loud has spent 118 weeks in the Top 100.
Sheeran, his label and publisher have yet to respond to the ruling.
In 2017, Sheeran settled a copyright infringement claim over the track Photograph. Last year the writing team behind TLC’s 1999 hit No Scrubs were given credits on Shape Of You.
The case follows the ruling against the writers of Blurred Lines over allegations of copying another Gaye song.