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FREE ED SHEERAN from ‘ridiculous’ copyright lawsuits

FREE ED SHEERAN from ‘ridiculous’ copyright lawsuits

Ed Sheeran Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
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(Hypebot) — Mike Masnick discusses Ed Sheeran’s frequent appearance in the copyright courts due to “silly lawsuits.”

by Mike Masnick of Tech Dirt

We’ve written a bunch about how Ed Sheeran recognizes how batshit crazy current copyright law is. One of the most successful recording artists today, you’d think that maybe he’d be a copyright maximalist, and yet copyright just seems to keep getting in the way of his creativity. Sheeran has admitted that piracy made him successful. When he started out as an independent artist, he says it was people sharing his music through pirate sites that built up his fan base, eventually leading to his record deals. He’s also been supportive of fans who got hit with copyright claims for covering his songs.

But, at the same time, he keeps getting sued with questionable claims of copyright infringement. Earlier this year, he won one of the key lawsuits against him, including having the plaintiff have to pay his legal fees. However, he admitted to what a strain it’s been putting on his ability to create music, releasing a video statement saying:

I feel like claims like this are way too common now, and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no basis for the claimIt’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.

There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify—that’s 22 million songs a year—and there’s only 12 notes that are available.

I don’t want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered from both sides of this case, but I just want to say, I’m not an entity. I’m not a corporation. I’m a human being. I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a son. Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience. And I hope that with this ruling, in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end.

Me, Johnny, and Steve, are very grateful for all the support sent to us by fellow songwriters over the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can all get back to writing songs, rather than having to prove that we can write them.

Except, he can’t just get back to writing songs, because a court has said he has to go to trial over yet another one of these silly lawsuits. And, as Glyn Moody highlights, while this lawsuit is over a Marvin Gaye song, it’s not even the Gaye estate that brought the lawsuit. An investment banker bought the rights and is suing Sheeran to get free cash.

The claim over Thinking Out Loud was originally lodged in 2018, not by Gaye’s family but by investment banker David Pullman and a company called Structured Asset Sales, which has acquired a portion of the estate of Let’s Get It On co-writer Ed Townsend.

Sheeran has talked about now he has to record all of his songwriting sessions knowing that he might end up in court, and that’s just depressing and awful. None of this is helping creativity. None of this is “promoting the progress.” This is all just pure greed and exploitation of someone who is an actual creator.

For what it’s worth, you may recall that the lawsuit that kicked off this wave of lawsuits for songs that have a similar groove was also about a Marvin Gaye song, “Got to Give it Up” which was deemed too similar to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” What you might not remember, though, is while that case was brought by the Gaye estate, this same company, Structured Asset Sales, tried to insert itself into the case as an extra plaintiff.

So, now we have an investment banker just trying to cash in on songs that have a similar groove and get free cash while making it depressingly difficult for artists to write new songs. This isn’t copyright trolling, exactly, it’s trying to lock up entire genres through financial shenanigans.

Mike Masnick


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