‘Cat man’ Ed Sheeran scotches music copyright violation claims for others

Ed outside court after the litigation
Ed outside court after the litigation. Screenshot from his Instagram video.
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Anybody who has plans to sue a musician for a violation of their intellectual property rights concerning their musical composition may have to think twice about it after Ed Sheeran successfully defended for the second time claims against him for music copyright violations.

Ed Sheeran is a cat man or perhaps it is his girlfriend who likes cats. I think actually that Ed Sheeran likes cats a lot which gives me the right to write this article about music!

How many cats does Ed Sheeran have?
Ed Sheeran with Graham as a kitten (I believe). Taken soon after adoption I suspect. Image: Instragram.

I don’t know much about music so I can’t write a lot about this topic! But this is about common sense. You may have heard that he has been involved in three copyright claims against him (believed). Two of them went to court and he won both.

Below is the video of Ed after his successful defense of the claim against him. It is from his Instagram page. The video is ’embedded’ here. It will stop working if something happens to the video on Instagram.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos)


He played his music in court. He is, I believe, an excellent witness in court proceedings because he’s a very honest person and that comes across in court. And he knows music composition as well as or better than anyone else.

The litigation

In the latest court case, he was sued by the composers of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic Let’s Get It On. They said that his hit single Thinking Out Loud contained four chords which were similar enough to the Marvin Gaye song to indicate that he ripped them off.

Ed’s defense

Ed Sheeran’s defence, as was the case in his previous litigation, was that there are 12 different chords in all of music. A chord in music is any harmonic set of pitches, frequencies consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously.

Four chords used by songwriters every day all over the world – Ed Sheeran

Therefore, there is a limited number of sounds that one can make as a composer which are pleasant to the ear. I guess there are millions of different sounds a musician can make with those 12 different chords but most of them are going to be unpleasant and not music.

And also, importantly, in the recent case he said that the chords he used which the plaintiff claimed he had copied from Marvin Gaye’s song had been used before in earlier songs. This was well before Gaye’s song had been composed.

In other words, he is stating that those particular chords are used a lot by composers in other songs and they’ve been around for quite a long time. Therefore, he could not have ripped off Marvin Gaye’s song.

Popular music sound similar

And this accounts for why a lot of popular music sounds very similar to outsiders like me. They all do sound as if they are based on the same music building blocks which indeed, they are.

On that basis, I would argue that future claims for music copyright are going to be very difficult to succeed and because of that I think that Ed Sheeran and has scotched future music copyright violation plans by other people.

Clearly there will be some violations which are obvious but these will be highly unlikely to occur because they are obvious.


Ed Sheeran was so incensed by being sued this last time that he said that he would stop making music if the other side succeeded. But that tells me that he was very sure of his case. He knew what he was talking about and he sees these legal actions against him as misguided and a waste of his time. And of course it’s a waste of legal costs because it’s not cheap to run these cases.

Legal costs

The plaintiff suing him would have spent about US$1 million in terms of legal costs. And because they lost their case Ed Sheeran will be able to obtain an order that the other side pays his costs. A big financial loss for them.

There is no doubt in my mind that Ed Sheeran has changed the music copyright landscape for the better.

Ed Sheeran should build a very large cat enclosure on his sprawling estate

Impulsive senior shelter cat adoption before Ed Sheeran concert proved irresistible

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