Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard filed a complaint in a California District Court on June 8, accusing Sheeran of copyright infringement. The pair claim Sheeran’s 2015 released single is structured similarly to their song, “Amazing”—a song given to 2012 “X Factor” winner Matt Cardle. According to the two, “Amazing” was written in 2009.
Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid—who is credited as a co-writer on Photograph—Warner Music Group and its subsidiary, Atlantic Recording Corporation, and NathanCable Touring LLP are named as defendants as well.
The lawsuit states: “This is an action for willful copyright infringement in which Sheeran and McDaid, the credited writers of the international hit song “Photograph,” among others, copied, and exploited, without authorization or credit, the work of other active, professional songwriters, on a breathtaking scale, unabashedly taking credit for the work of these songwriters by claiming it to be their own.”
It continues, “Given the striking similarity between the chorus of Amazing and Photograph, (the) defendants knew when writing, publishing, recording, releasing, and distributing Photograph that they were infringing on a pre-existing musical composition. The copying of Amazing by Photograph is breathtaking in its deliberateness, magnitude, and hubris.”
Harrington and Leonard want a trial and royalties from the song.
Sheeran and his representatives have yet to comment on the lawsuit.
This is the second legal action brought against a pop star in less than a month. Justin Bieber is facing a lawsuit for his song, “Sorry.”
According to indie artist Casey Dienel, Bieber’s “Sorry” adopted the “specific and unique characteristics of the female vocal riff” from her song, “Ring the Bell.” She claims Bieber sampled the riffs during the first eight seconds of his song and several times thereafter.
Dienel claimed to have contacted Bieber but was “ignored” by the 23-year-old singer. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including profits generated by “Sorry.”
Compare the songs above.