Ed Sheeran once said his song “Photograph” “will be the one that will change [his]… career path,” but a lawsuit wasn’t what he had in mind.
The No. 1 charting song is facing a $20 million lawsuit from two songwriters, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, along with their publishing company HaloSongs for their song “Amazing” which was released by 2010 X Factor winner Matt Cardle. They claim “Photograph” is a “verbatim, note-for-note” copy of “Amazing.”
The duo feels so strongly about their case, they brought in the big guns and hired attorney Richard Busch, who championed the Marvin Gaye family in their copyright battle against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the hit, “Blurred Lines.” They ended up winning a $5.3 million judgment.
“My clients are professional songwriters,” says Busch of Harrington and Leonard, who wrote songs for Kylie Minogue and Spice Girl Emma Bunton. “Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.”
They offered a chords comparison, saying there are 39 identical notes (about 70%) in pitch, rhythmic duration and placement in the measure, according to Billboard.
“The songs’ similarities reach the very essence of the work,” states the complaint. “The similarities go beyond substantial, which is itself sufficient to establish copyright infringement, and are in fact striking. The similarity of words, vocal style, vocal melody, melody, and rhythm are clear indicators, among other things, that ‘Photograph’ copies ‘Amazing.'”
The complaint estimates Sheeran has raked in more than $20 million, so the plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages and either an injunction or a running royalty.
Listen to both of the songs below to compare: