Ed Sheeran has been slapped with a major lawsuit over his hit “Photograph,” with the plantiffs claiming that the song is a “verbatim, note-for-note copying” of their 2009 song “Amazing,” which was released as a single by 2010’s “X-Factor” winner Matt Cardle.
Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, who have written tracks for Kylie Minogue and Spice Girl Emma Bunton, and their publishing company HaloSongs, are suing Sheeran for $20 million. The lawsuit was filed by Richard Busch, who served as lawyer on behalf of the Marvin Gaye family on the high-profile “Blurred Lines” copyright case.
The “Blurred Lines” case was settled last year for $5.3 million.
“My clients are professional songwriters,” said Busch. “Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.”
The chorus in “Photograph” and “Amazing” share about 70% of notes, alleges the suit. The lawsuit makes the case that both the original composition by Harrington and Leonard and the recorded version by Cardle are too similar to “Photograph.”
“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.'”
Sheeran, along with Johnny McDaid, Sony/ATV Songs, Warner Music and Polar Patrol Music Publishing are all named as defendants in the lawsuit. According to the complaint Sheeran’s song “is the most valuable of all of the assets of Polar Patrol, and increased the price of the sale. The profits of Defendants that Plaintiffs are entitled to recover thus include the portion of Polar Patrol’s sale price that may be attributable to the inclusion of the infringing ‘Photograph’ composition.”
The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction or running royalty and statutory damages. “Photograph” was recently licensed for the “Me Before You” soundtrack.
Listen to both songs below.
Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph”
Matt Cardle’s “Amazing”