Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ Lyrics Stolen From ‘X Factor’ Winner, Beats Adele, Taylor Swift For Most Played Artist

Ed Sheeran is the latest musical artist being accused of pilfering another’s creation. The “Thinking Out Loud” star is accused of “verbatim, note-for-note copying” of their song “Amazing,” which turned into Sheeran’s 2015 hit “Photograph,” according to the $20 million claim.

The Tennessean reports that two California songwriters, Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard, filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming that Sheeran committed copyright infringement when he appropriated major components of “Amazing.”

“Amazing” was the template for X Factor winner Matt Cardle’s 2012 single “Amazing 2,” which peaked at No. 84 on the UK singles chart and received more than 1 million plays on YouTube.

As of June 1, “Photograph” has sold more than 3.5 million copies, and the video has more than 206 million views on YouTube. Ed Sheeran’s album x sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and elevated him to superstar status, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. The plaintiffs believe that without their song, that song’s success would not have been possible.

Harrington and Leonard are represented by the same attorney that brought victory to Marvin Gaye’s family in the copyright lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over “Blurred Lines” and Richard Busch, a Nashville attorney intends to do the same for the lesser known songwriters. Matt Cradle is not part of the lawsuit.

“My clients are professional songwriters. Their work is their life, and I am honored that they have trusted me with this very important case.”

The point of contention is this; according to the lawsuit the choruses in “Photograph” and “Amazing” are almost identical.

“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.”

Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard believe that they deserve some of those “Photograph” profits, and it’s not just Sheeran that is named in the lawsuit; Sheeran’s co-writer for Johnny McDaid, Sony/ATV Songs, Polar Patrol Music, Nathan Cable Touring, and record label Warner Music Group are all named as co-conspirators in the sham.

“We set out the facts in the lawsuit in great detail. Anyone having any questions about the strength of this case should just read the complaint. It is there, and will answer any of those questions.”

The lawsuit claims that the similarities between the two songs are obvious; the two songs possess similar overall structures, melodic rhythms, and harmonies. There is also the matter of both songs sharing lyrics about “the stairway to heaven always starts in hell” another similarity pointed out in the lawsuit.


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Richard Busch has made a name for himself going after major artists for sampling. He won a $7.4 million suit against Thicke and Williams for Gaye’s family last year, in addition to a string of suits associated with the unlicensed sampling of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s music.

Ed Sheeran may be on a musical break, but that didn’t stop him from beating Adele and Taylor Swift for most played artist in the U.K. for 2015. A story in IBT says that according to the Phonographic Performance Ltd’s latest chart, the 25-year-old singer went from No. 3 in 2014 to No. 1 in 2015. His album x topped both U.S and U.K. music charts selling almost 8 million copies worldwide.

This is the latest copyright infringement case against a major artist — Justin Bieber also has a pending lawsuit for “Sorry” brought on by artist White Hinterland.

Does Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” sound like Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard’s “Amazing,” or is this another litigious lawsuit brought on by lesser known artists?

[Photo by Richard Fury/AP Images]