Ed Sheeran accused of plagiarism in copyright dispute

Ed Sheeran has recently become party to a cross-border copyright dispute over a song he wrote for American country and western singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

All three artists have found themselves facing legal action over the song ‘The Rest of Our Life’, which Mr McGraw and Ms Hill licenced from Ed Sheeran’s original composition.

Australian songwriter Mr Sean Carey and fellow keyboard player and producer Mr Beau Golden have reportedly sued the trio amid concerns that ‘The Rest of Our Life’ contains similarities to ‘When I Found You’, a song they wrote for Australian star Jasmine Rae in 2014.

Reports suggest that Ed Sheeran, who was first accused of copying the song in January, has since filed legal documents alleging that the lawsuit is without merit.

In these documents, Ed Sheeran described ‘The Rest of Our Life’ as an “originally and independently created musical composition” and said that Mr Carey and Mr Golden’s claim was “baseless.”

Nevertheless, the Australian duo insist that “the copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of [their] song.”

On top of this, the media has been keen to point out that this is now the fourth time the British singer-songwriter has been accused of copying the songs of other artists, while other reports suggest that if Ed Sheeran is found guilty of copying Mr Carey and Mr Golden’s track, only he himself will be held liable.

Mr McGraw and Ms Hill are standing by Ed Sheeran, insisting that his song does not infringe any copyright laws.

Protecting your copyright requires constant attention and failing to promptly take action against potential infringers can seriously harm your ability to mitigate damage to your brand and intellectual property. If you have concerns about protecting your intellectual property and would like to discuss the steps you can take, contact a member of our experienced media law team.

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Maung Aye
Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell Turner Garrett following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex. Maung read European Legal Studies at Lancaster University and the Università degli Studi di Trento and is a fluent Italian speaker.