The Ed Sheeran copyright infringement trial concluded with closing arguments on Wednesday, bringing the focus back to the start of the case: a performance of Sheeran’s popular song “Thinking Out Loud” in November 2014. During this performance in Zurich, Sheeran transitioned into Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” which has been presented as evidence by Gaye’s collaborator’s estate to support their claim that Sheeran unlawfully copied the 1973 soul hit.
“The Zurich video is further evidence that he knew exactly what he was doing when he played those two songs together,” said Keisha Rice, a lawyer for the heirs of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye.
Also presenting a closing argument was Benjamin Crump, another lawyer for the Townsend family.
“My grandmother taught me when I was a little boy ‘Your actions speak so loud that I don’t need to hear your words,’” said Crump.
“Not only do we have a smoking gun, but we have bullets,” the lawyer said of the video.
In Manhattan Federal Court, Ed Sheeran sat silently while the Townsend family lawyers presented their arguments. However, Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas, argued that the video alone is insufficient evidence to prove that the 32-year-old singer-songwriter committed any wrongdoing.
“A video of Ed Sheeran mashing up a few minutes — that’s plaintiff’s confession? The smoking gun?” Farkas asked the jury.
If every “mashup or medley of two or more songs was a confession,” then every artist who did something similar would be guilty of copyright infringement, she said.
“Simply put, plaintiff’s smoking gun is shooting blanks,” said Farkas as Sheeran, wearing a dark suit with a pale blue tie, looked on.
Earlier in the trial, Sheeran played the song in question for the court, demonstrating its four-chord sequence, which Farkas has called “the scaffolding of music”.
After the trial, Townsend’s daughter expressed her satisfaction with the fact that the heirs of her father had the opportunity to present their case in court.
“It is all in God’s hands and I think we’ve given it our best shot,” said Kathryn Townsend Griffin.
“Win, lose or draw, everything’s still a win because now people are gong to be aware and they’re now going to double check to make sure they’re not infringing.”
Judge Louis Stanton charged the seven-person jury, which deliberated briefly late in the afternoon and will resume deliberations on Thursday.