Ed Sheeran won’t be a opening his wallet for a massive “Blurred Lines”-style legal payout. At least for the time being.
Sheeran, who was accused of ripping off the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get It On” for his own song “Thinking Out Loud,” caught a break on Thursday, after a federal judge dismissed the complaint.
The singer could be on the hook at a future point, however, a U.S. district judge Richard J. Sullivan dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning it could be filed at a later date.
Sheeran was sued in August by the heirs of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On” with Gaye.
The suit alleged that Sheeran and the other defendants “copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking’ … he melodic, harmonic and rhythmic compositions in ‘Thinking’ are not the product of independent creation.”
Sullivan dismissed the suit, however, because the defendants had not served the complaint to most of the defendants months after the suit had been filed.
According to Thursday’s ruling, Townsend’s heirs were told in November, more than 90 days after the complaint was filed, that the suit would be tossed unless they either filed proof of service on the defendants or adequately explained why they needed more time to do so. Days later, the plaintiffs filed a letter that they were “diligently attempting to locate and serve all Defendants.”
The judge extended the deadline to January 20. Townsend’s heirs managed to properly serve two of the 15 defendants, Sheeran not among them, by the deadline.
“For the reasons set forth above, it is hereby ordered that the complaint is dismissed without prejudice against the following 13 defendants,” Thursday’s order reads, listing Sheeran among them.
The two remaining defendants, Atlantic Recording Corporation and Warner Music Group Corporation, were given until Friday to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.