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Ed Sheeran Accused Of Songwriting Theft, Sued For $20 Million

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Ed Sheeran is being sued for alleged similarities between his hit song “Photograph” and X Factor UK winner Matt Cardle’s “Amazing.”

Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, as well as their publishing company HaloSongs, are suing Sheeran for $20 million. They allege he lifted significant portions of their 2009 song “Amazing” (later recorded and released by 2010 X Factor UK winner Matt Cardle a year after his win) and used them in his track “Photograph.”

Harrington and Leonard have enlisted the help of attorney Richard Busch, who famously earned the Marvin Gaye family $5.3 million when they brought a copyright lawsuit against Robin Thicke and T.I. that accused them of plagiarizing Gaye for their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.”

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

In their lawsuit, Harrington and Leonard claim both the actual composition of the track and the version Cardle recorded are similar enough to “Photograph” to warrant copyright infringement. They allege the choruses of both songs share 39 identical notes “in pitch, rhythmic duration and placement in the measure.”

“The songs’ similarities reach the very essence of the work. The similarities go beyond substantial, which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking,” they wrote in the complaint. “The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody, and rhythm are clear indicators, among other things, that ‘Photograph’ copies ‘Amazing.'”

Sheeran is being sued along with co-writer Johnny McDaid, Sony/ATV Songs, Warner Music and Polar Patrol Music Publishing, the latter of which was recently sold.

The plaintiffs maintain Sheeran’s song “is the most valuable of all of the assets of Polar Patrol, and increased the price of the sale. The profits of Defendants that Plaintiffs are entitled to recover thus include the portion of Polar Patrol’s sale price that may be attributable to the inclusion of the infringing ‘Photograph’ composition.”

They’re also seeking statutory damages and either an injunction on the track, a cut of its running royalties.

Listen to the fan-made video comparing the two songs below, and draw your own conclusions.

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