Two Sydney musos are taking Sheeran to court, accusing the pop-star of plagiarising their chart-topping song almost "note-for-note".
Ed Sheeran has been accused of plagiarising almost “note-for-note” a hit song originally recorded by Australian country music star Jasmine Rae.
The Rest of Our Life, which Sheeran co-wrote for US country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, is the song in question. And Sydney musos Sean Carey and Beau Golden allege that it is a blatant rip-off of the track they wrote with Rae — When I Found You, which topped the Australian Country Radio charts in 2016.
Carey has been a guitarist with Thirsty Merc, and Golden has worked with a host of pop-stars including Guy Sebastian and Samantha Jade. It is understood they both have record deals with major labels and music direction positions with streaming giant Netflix.
The pair reportedly filed a lawsuit in New York on Wednesday, accusing the Grammy-winner and his co-writers of “willful copyright infringement”, including copying melodies, chords and lyrical themes from their song.
“The copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer,” states the complaint, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The trio were alerted to the alleged infringement by a fan of Rae’s on Twitter, and after listening to the song they began looking at legal options.
Sheeran was touring Australia at the time “When I Found You” was enjoying extensive air time on local radio, but there is also a link much closer to home, according to the lodged complaint.
Rae’s boyfriend Tim Holland is a marketing manager for Sony, the home company of Sheeran’s publisher Sony/ATV. And when confronted by the trio he allegedly admitted to having prior knowledge and keeping silent to avoid jeopardising his job.
“During this conversation, Mr. Holland admitted to knowing about the Infringing Song months in advance of its release because he was tasked with promoting and marketing the Infringing Song and Infringing Sound Recording before its release,” it reads.
“When questioned by Plaintiffs as to his silence about the similarities between ‘When I Found You’ and the Infringing Song/Infringing Sound Recording, Mr. Holland stated he did not want to lose his job with Sony Music… When pressed further by Plaintiffs, Mr. Holland indicated that he had known that the songs were substantially similar for more than two months prior to the October 5, 2017 release date of the Infringing Song/Infringing Sound Recording.”
There is even a suggestion Holland may have even been “instrumental in bringing Plaintiffs’ work to the attention of the Defendants and likely provided access to it”.
“It strains credibility to believe that it is just a coincidence that the Infringing Song/Infringing Sound Recording, a blatant note for note copy of the Song, was created without Mr. Holland’s providing access, when Mr. Holland is the boyfriend of one of the writers of the Song.”
Carey and Golden are being represented by attorney Richard Busch, who made headlines for winning a copyright lawsuit on behalf of Marvin Gaye’s family against Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s for Blurred Lines. He also has form against Sheeran, forcing a settlement over the copyright of Photograph, which resulted in the suing songwriters being recognised in the credits and earning royalties.
Sheeran is no stranger to copyright controversy. As well as Photograph, court papers were filed over the likeness betweenhis song Thinking Out Loud to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. While 2017 hit Shape Of You drew comparisons to Sia’s chart-topping Cheap Thrills, and Tracy Chapman’s 1988 song Mountain O’ Things.
Carey and Golden are seeking damages and royalties, noting that Sheeran and his co-writers have profited in excess of $US5 million. The two tracks can be watched below.