Ed Sheeran’s attorney turned up the volume in her closing arguments Tuesday — charging there is no “smoking gun” in the copyright lawsuit accusing her client of copying Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”
“Simply put: the plaintiff’s ‘smoking gun’ was shooting blanks,” attorney Ilene Farkas said in Manhattan federal court. “Their confession is nothing more, nothing less.”
Farkas’ rebuttal came after attorneys for the heirs of the late Ed Townsend – who co-wrote the 1973 R&B classic with Gaye – revealed what they said was their “smoking gun” in the copyright suit against Sheeran.
Attorney Ben Crump, in his opening statement last week, argued a video of Sheeran merging his songs “Thinking Out Loud” and “Let’s Get it On” at a 2014 concert amounted to a “confession” from the British pop star that he’d ripped off Gaye’s hit to write his own tune.
But Farkas, in his hour-long closing argument, tried to sow doubt with the jury, taking shots at Crump’s claims.
“He did a mashup one night. That’s a plaintiff’s confession, their smoking gun?,” Farkas asked.
“They were not writing a song about ‘getting it on’ – not lyrically, not musically,” explained Farkas of Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge.
The four-time Grammy award-winning musician previously tested that Gaye’s timeless classic never crossed his mind when he wrote “Thinking Out Loud” one night after taking a shower.
During the testimony, Sheeran and Wadge shared stories about the song’s creation – which came when the two discussed what it was like to spend your whole adult life with someone and then try to go on without them.
Farkas also slammed the plaintiffs’ music expert Alexander Stewart’s “half-baked analysis” claiming to prove Sheeran’s stole from Gaye — including Stewart’s testimony that the first 24 seconds of the two songs were identical.
“Dr. Stewart was not telling you the truth when he said ‘Thinking Out Loud’ had the same chord progression as ‘Let’s Get it On,’” Farkas argued.
Stewart tested that Sheeran used similar chord progression, anticipation and melodies, which went against what Sheeran’s musicologist Lawrence Ferrar told the judges.
Ferrar told jurors he found 80 songs that contained the same chord progression as “Let’s Get it On,” with 33 coming before the Motown classic was released.
Plaintiff attorney Keisha Rice, in her own closing argument, played riff after riff ripping Sheeran’s testimony.
She said she hoped the jury would not be “blinded by their celebrity” and questioned Sheeran’s testimony when he was claimed to be able to write eight-to-10 songs in a day.
“What we do know is both artists agreed they both had access to ‘Let’s Get it On’ and at a self-confessed writing pace of 8-10 songs a day, it’s more likely than not that they intentionally or unintentionally copied ‘Let’s Get it On,” Rice charged.
Rice reiterated Stewart’s claim that 70% of “Thinking Out Loud” is identical to “Let’s Get it On.”
Crump also chimed in during closing arguments, and insisted to the court that the video of Sheeran’s mashup performance in Zurich, Switzerland was still a smoking gun.
“Not only do we have a smoking gun, but we have bullets for that smoking gun,” he stressed.
Crump warned the jury not to be “charmed” by Sheeran, and that told them an apparent veiled threat by the singer-songwriter to walk away from the music if the case didn’t go his way was a bluff.
“That’s simply a threat to play with your emotions,” Crump said. “…I promise he won’t do that.”
Following closing arguments, Judge Louis Stanton issued jury instructions. Juro’s met for just about minutes and are set to resume deliberations Thursday morning.