The Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial wrapped up testimony at the end of the court day, as the judge sent the Manhattan jury into deliberations with a pointed admonition: “Independent creation is a complete defense, no matter how similar that song is.”
US District Court Judge Louis Stanton’s instructions may have left a high bar in the jury’s minds for just how much evidence the plaintiffs’ attorneys needed to have established to prove that Sheeran and his co-writer actually copied Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ when they wrote the pop hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’, reports ‘Variety’.
According to Insider, Stanton told jurors that the lawyers for the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer, Ed Townsend, needed to “prove by a preponderance of the evidence... that Sheeran actually copied and wrongfully copied ‘Let’s Get It On’” - as opposed to the coincidental, negligible similarities argued by Sheeran’s attorneys.
The judge asked jurors to immediately begin discussing the case behind closed doors, saying that “it’s good for them to get a little bit of deliberations in” and reassuring everyone involved that “we’re not going to spend the night”.
As per Variety, the jurors’ time together lasted well under an hour before they were dismissed and asked to return Thursday morning.
In closing arguments, Sheeran attorney Ilene Farkas referred back to the other side’s contention that the singer’s concert mashup of the two songs constituted ‘a smoking gun’ and ‘a confession’. Said Farkas, according to the New York Post, “He did a mashup one night. That’s a plaintiff’s confession, their smoking gun?...Simply put: the plaintiff’s ‘smoking gun’ was shooting blanks.”
“Not only do we have a smoking gun, but we have bullets for that smoking gun,” said Ben Crump, an attorney for the plaintiffs, as both sides did their best to thoroughly exhaust the metaphor.
‘Variety’ further states that there were amusing moments during the closing day of testimony, news accounts suggest.
After Sheeran had previously said in court that ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was more akin to Van Morrison’s style than the Gaye tune, the comparisons got less high-minded on as a debate erupted over a different song that had several different versions played in the courtroom: the fluffy 1960s hit ‘Georgy Girl’.