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This month a jury found that Ed Sheeran did not copy parts of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for his own song “Thinking Out Loud,” a conclusion to a case that has been playing out over several years, and that was the latest test of how much latitude the legal system is affording songwriters to assemble new songs using the same building blocks as those that came before.
Sheeran has been a target of similar legal action before, and his success in this case might serve as a dissuading factor for future litigation. Or perhaps not: Popular songwriters and pop stars are often attractive targets for lawsuits of this kind, which give potential plaintiffs at least a small chance at a huge payoff, deserved or not.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the specifics of the Sheeran trial, how this case differed from other recent copyright battles, and how the current laws fail to account for how most contemporary pop music is currently made.