Ed Sheeran sued over song

LOS ANGELES • Two California- based musicians are suing British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran for US$20 million (S$27 million) over his hit song Photograph, which they claim bears a similar structure to one of their songs, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.

The copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by songwriter- producer Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, a songwriter signed to Harrington's company HaloSongs, in federal court in the Central District of California.

They allege that Photograph, released as a single last year, has the same musical composition as their song Amazing, which they say they wrote in 2009. Other defendants named include rock group Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, credited as a co-writer of Photograph, and units of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner Music Group and its subsidiary, Atlantic Recording Corporation.

Harrington and Leonard are seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of US$20 million, plus song royalties. In documents that include musical note comparisons and chord breakdowns of the two songs, they claim the chorus of Photograph shares 39 identical notes with Amazing, saying the similarities are "instantly recognisable to the ordinary observer".

The documents say Photograph has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide, and most recently was featured prominently in the romantic movie Me Before You, released last week, as well as trailers for the film.

The lawsuit says Sheeran, 25, had called the song "the one that will change (his), kind of, career path". Amazing was adapted into a single of the same name for British singer Matt Cardle, the 2010 winner of the British singing competition The X Factor.

Cardle's Amazing to date has just over one million views on YouTube, while Sheeran's music video for Photograph has 208 million YouTube views.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Ed Sheeran sued over song'. Print Edition | Subscribe