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Federal IP infringement case has huge money implications

Let’s Get It On.

Many of our readers might quickly identify the above words as the title of deceased pop superstar Marvin Gaye’s smash hit from decades back.

Those same words might now be suitably employed to describe the strategy recently unveiled by the principal of a company that claims title to a piece of the estate owned by a co-writer of that tune. Structured Assets Sales (SAS) recently took the aggressive tack of suing various defendants in federal court for profiting unlawfully from the song through creation of another work that allegedly infringes it in material ways.

The newer piece is the recent mega-selling song “Thinking Out Loud” performed by A-list artist Ed Sheeran.

SAS argues that Sheeran’s piece is anything but a casual approximation of Gaye’s original work Rather, the federal complaint cites a close copying of the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping.”

In other words, the filing charges, the newer piece is essentially a verbatim rip off. The plaintiff seeks at least $100 million for the alleged infringement from Sheeran, Sony Publishing and additional defendants.

SAT’s owner states that multiple independent “musicologist” experts were solicited for their professional opinions regarding similarities in the two works. Reportedly, they unanimously found the songs to be “substantially or strikingly similar.”

That assessment will of course be tested and ultimately ruled upon in court. Such cases are often exceedingly technical and complex, with their likely outcomes being hard to reasonably predict at an early stage. An experienced entertainment law attorney who routinely represents musical artists and companies (both plaintiffs and defendants) can provide relevant information and, when necessary, diligent advocacy in a given case.

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