Ed Sheeran Settles $20 Million Lawsuit for “Photograph”

Ed Sheeran - Image via Baltimore Post-Examiner

Did pop music singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran steal his 2014 hit track “Photograph” from Nickleback?  I guess we will never know.  But seriously Mr. Sheeran secretly settled a $20 million lawsuit over his hit track “photograph” which was on his 2014 album X Multiply. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSDgHBxUbVQ]

The lawsuit claims that Sheeran copied “note-for-note” from a track called “Amazing” a song released by the 2012 winner of the U.K. talent show X Factor, Matt Cardle. Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who are credited with writing “Amazing” are represented by attorney Richard Busch – Busch is the same attorney who won a $7.4 million copyright infringement case against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their chart-topping song “Blurred Lines” in 2015. Busch accused Sheeran of “unabashedly taking credit” for the work of Leonard and Harrington.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWtP_1lyghM]

In the lawsuit, Busch claims that the chorus of both “Amazing” and “Photograph” share 39 identical notes that are “instantly recognizable to the ordinary observer.” The suit also accuses Sheeran’s songwriting partner, Johnny McDaid of the band Snow Patrol, saying the two had “exploited, without authorization or credit, the work of other active, professional songwriters on a breathtaking scale.”Sheeran’s single “Photograph” reached No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 15 on the U.K. singles chart in 2014. While Cardle’s track “Amazing” peaked at No. 84 in the U.K. in 2012. In the court documents, Busch stated: “While Sheeran, McDaid, and the other defendants received career-defining accolades, awards, and a fortune for ‘Photograph,’ the true writers of much of ‘Photograph’ received nothing.”

Court Documents

The legal team representing Leonard and Harrington submitted the chord structures for both tracks in court documents.  According to Harvard Business Review, 90% of all lawsuits are settled out of court, most of them virtually on the courthouse steps.  On Monday, Judge James Selna signed an order at a California court dismissing the case after an agreement was reached between the two parties. The exact details of the agreement have not been disclosed but often a settlement is the best route to take to avoid a potentially lengthy and costly court battle.



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