Ed Sheeran’s big hit from last summer will now reach federal court. On Wednesday, Sheeran’s song “photograph” is now alleged for copyright claims in a new $20 million lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, and their publishing company HaloSongs, who allege that Sheeran’s “Photograph” is a copy of their 2009 song “Amazing.” Harrington and Leonardo’s single was sung by Matt Cardle, the winner of the 2010 season of The X Factor, according to Entertainment News.
“The songs’ similarities reach the very essence of the work,” states the complaint. “The similarities go beyond substantial, which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking. The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody and rhythm are clear indicators, among other things, that ‘Photograph’ copies ‘Amazing.'”
Sheeran has made significant progress throughout his career before his song “Photograph” was released last month. His co-writing for songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift brought him into the spotlight, and eventually leading him to release his big hit album, x, in June 2014, debuting at No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K, according to Biography. Sheeran said in an interview that this song “will be the one that will change [his] … career path” and it has. “Photograph” had reached No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart in May 2015.
However, before the lawsuit was filed, others noticed similarities in the songs, posting suspicions on Twitter and YouTube. Listening to the songs side-by-side do reveal striking similarities and according to the complaint the songs shares 39 identical notes in pitch, rhythmic duration and placement in the measure, which is estimated about 70 percent of the song’s content.
“My clients are professional songwriters,” says Busch to NBC News. “Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.” Sheeran’s representatives have not commented yet on the case.
The lawsuit is filed by the same attorney who represented the Marvin Gaye family in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case. Sheeran will now have to face these charges along with credited co-writer Johnny McDaid, Sony/ATV Songs, Warner Music and others including the recently sold Polar Patrol Music Publishing, each named as co-defendants, according to Hollywood Reporter. According to the complaint, they’ve already been given notice of the allegations and continue to exploit “Photograph,” including licensing the song for the recently released major motion picture Me Before You.
Cases like these aren’t new when it comes to song copyright and plagiarism. Artists like Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Avril Lavigne, and Coldplay have been sued for their songs seeming to appear similar to others, and it’s pretty common for celebrities and song writers. For Ed Sheeran, this is his first case where he’s faced with claims of plagiarism for his songs. However, the case is now up to the courts in California whether or not this destroys his career or miraculously survives it.