Ed Sheeran Sued for More Than $20 Million for Alleged Plagiarism - Rolling Stone
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Ed Sheeran Sued for More Than $20 Million for Alleged Plagiarism

Songwriters claim pop star ripped off “Photograph” from tune they wrote for ‘X Factor’ winner

UPDATE 2: Ed Sheeran has settled his copyright lawsuit over “Photograph,” per the Hollywood Reporter. While the case was dismissed, a California court would “retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of an agreement.” Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

UPDATE: Singer Matt Cardle, who recorded the plaintiffs’ “Amazing,” released a statement on Twitter distancing himself from the lawsuit. “This is not my lawsuit,” he wrote. “I think Ed Sheeran is a genius and 100 percent deserves all his success.”

Ed Sheeran allegedly plagiarized his Top 10 hit “Photograph,” according to a new lawsuit. A lawyer representing songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard and their company HoloSongs filed a lawsuit seeking more than $20 million on Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that the single, which appears on Sheeran’s X LP, bore “verbatim, note-for-note” similarities to their song “Amazing,” which The X Factor winner Matt Cardle recorded in 2012.

The complaint includes musical charts that aim to demonstrate parallels between the songs’ chord progressions, melodies and rhythms. The songwriters include their own 2009 version, as well as the Cardle version as examples. Their lawyer, Richard Busch – who won a similar suit regarding Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” for the family of Marvin Gaye last year – claims that some 70 percent of the chorus to “Photograph” is identical to that of “Amazing,” right down to the phrasing.

“My clients are professional songwriters,” Busch said in the statement. “Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.”

Co-defendants in the suit include “Photograph” co-writer and Snow Patrol pianist and guitarist Johnny McDaid, as well as various music publishers and the record label Warner Music Group.

The defendants made in excess of $20 million, according to THR. In addition to that figure, Busch is seeking statutory damages and either an injunction or a royalty for his clients. One co-defendant is Polar Patrol Music Publishing, which controls music written by some Snow Patrol members. Since it was recently sold, and because the plaintiffs feel “Photograph” made the company more valuable, they’re seeking a portion of the sale price.

Reps for Sheeran and the other co-defendants did not immediately return requests for comment.

The plaintiffs have written songs for Kylie Minogue and Spice Girl Emma Bunton, according to The Hollywood Reporter. None of the other co-writers on the Cardle recording – which include Cardle and producers Ash Howes and Richard Stannard – are involved in the lawsuit.

Ed Sheeran – “Photograph”

Matt Cardle – “Amazing”

In This Article: Ed Sheeran, Snow Patrol, The X Factor


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