All artists have the right for their art to be protected. This applies to paintings, digital art, fiction, plays and screenplays, poetry, lyrics and music itself. Recently, the music industry has been going through various copyright lawsuits regarding song compositions and the similarities between songs.

Last year, a $5.3 million dollar copyright lawsuit was awarded to the family of Marvin Gaye when it was determined that Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” replicated one of Gaye’s songs. Currently there are claims involving several top artists including Led Zeppelin, Sam Smith and Justin Bieber. 

Singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran recently settled a $20 million dollar copyright suit with two songwriters, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, who claimed that Sheeran’s song “Photograph” copied that of Matt Cardle’s song “Amazing.” Cardle won the British X Factor show in 2010. The songwriters of “Amazing” claimed that Sheeran and his writing partner had exploited and copied their work on a breathtaking scale, taking credit for the work of Harrington and Leonard.

It was proven in court through side by side comparisons that the two songs shared 39 identical notes. It is important to note that just having similarities between two songs is not always enough. Plaintiffs also had to prove that there was exposure of one song to another. The outcome of the settlement was not made public. It is important to protect one’s own creative work. In order to see that someone is not profiting off the work of someone else, this often leads to intellectual property litigation. In such situations, having the assistance of an experienced attorney can help those involved move forward with a solid plan of legal action.

Source: CBS/AP, “Ed Sheeran settles copyright suit over hit ‘Photograph’,” April 11, 2017