District Judge Louis Stanton rejected Ed’s request to dismiss the lawsuit and, in a decision made public on Thursday, said there were “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements”.
‘Let’s Get It On’ was released in 1973 while Ed’s Grammy-winning ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was included on the British artist’s ‘X’ album in 2014.
The lawsuit was brought by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote ‘Let’s Get It On’ with Marvin, and it names Ed, his co-writer Amy Padge, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and the Atlantic record label as defendants.
Ed has always denied plagiarising the track.
As well as the “substantial similarities” between the two songs, Judge Stanton said it could be disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of ‘Let’s Get It On’ was deserving of copyright protection or whether it was too common.
The defence argued ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was characterised by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love” while ‘Let’s Get It On’ was a “sexual anthem”.
Despite this, the judge said listeners could view them as having the same “aesthetic appeal”.
‘Thinking Out Loud’ reached number one in the UK in November 2014, while Let’s Get It On topped the US charts in September 1973.
Judge Stanton is presiding over two lawsuits alleging Ed copied ‘Let’s Get It On’. In the other case, Structured Asset Sales (SAS), which owns one-third of Townsend’s estate, is suing for 100 US dollars (£79 million).
SAS is owned by David Pullman, the creator of the so-called Bowie Bonds, which saw David Bowie sell off bonds for 55 million dollars (£42 million) backed by royalties from his catalogue.
Ed has also been accused of plagiarism over his songs ‘Photograph’ and ‘Shape Of You’ in the past.
Listen to Ed’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ here...
And Marvin’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ here...