They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but could a ‘Photograph’ be worth $20 million? Matt Cardle’s songwriters claim Ed Sheeran's 2014 song ‘Photograph’ was copied from Cardle’s 2011 track ‘Amazing’ and are suing Sheeran. Here’s the story so far…
A Pricey Picture
It’s being claimed by Matt Cardle’s songwriters, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, that Ed Sheeran’s 2014 ‘Photograph’ was copied from Matt Cardle’s ‘Amazing’ in 2011.
The claim was brought in early June 2016, and it’s not currently thought Matt Cardle is a party to the proceedings. The claimants have instructed attorney Richard Busch, who recently successfully represented Martin Gaye’s family in their copyright claim against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The pair were ordered to pay £5.3 million for copying Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’ 1977 hit, for their 2013 chart topper ‘Blurred Lines’.
The claimants allege “The chorus sections of ‘Amazing’ and the infringing ‘Photograph’ share 39 identical notes — meaning the notes are identical in pitch, rhythmic duration, and placement in the measure”. Before taking the matter to court, it’s stated that Harrington and Leonard attempted to settle the matter without the need for proceedings.
The similarities are said to be beyond substantial “which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking”.
Cardle’s ‘Amazing’ reached 84 in the UK charts and has been played over 1 million times on YouTube. Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ is recorded to have sold more than 3.5 million copies and has been played over 208 million times on YouTube.
Recently, ‘Photograph’ has been licensed for use in the film ‘Me Before You’ and its trailers.
Sheeran’s representation is yet to comment on the claim.
Also being sued ia Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, a credited co-writer on ‘Photograph’. Various divisions of Warner Music Group and its subsidiary, ATV Music Publishing/Sony and Atlantic Recording Corporation are named defendants of Harrington and Leonard’s claim.
Copyright claims can be against one person, or, as is the case above, against several defendants. It’s important to make sure that no work is infringed, and where works have been infringed, the correct steps are taken, both in — where required —and out of court, to attempt to address any issues.
Our Intellectual Property team is experienced in both protecting and enforcing rights. They can help you where additional protection may be required, and also in claiming infringement.
If you’d like further information about copyright issues or would like to arrange an appointment to see one of our Solicitors, please contact us on 01604 828282 or send us a message via our online service.