The writers of the song “Amazing,” recorded by X Factor winner Matt Cardle, thought their song had a little too much in common with Ed Sheeran's hit “Photograph.” A few days ago a federal judge dismissed their copyright infringement lawsuit after the case was settled out of court.
According to Wikipedia, Cryptomnesia (or inadvertent plagiarism), occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original.
Hmm, I suffer from that myself from time to time. (And I like that it has a name.) Once, I realized I "borrowed strongly" from “Big Bottom” / Spinal Tap. Of all songs! Lucky for me, my “version” was never released so nobody heard it. If they had, I surely would have been mortified beyond repair.
And there have been times I’ve used a certain song as a template—say, if a music supervisor for a TV show asked me to write something with the vibe of another hit. But lifting a vibe is different than lifting a hook. (I’m not saying Ed did that…I'm just discussing with my trusted community.)
That said, there is another pending suit against Ed Sheeran in which he's accused of emulating (nicer word) Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get it On" in his Grammy winning "Thinking Out Loud." I fell under the spell of TOL when I first heard it—top down on the 101 driving west under the stars. Although, I have to be honest—I did find myself singing ”Let’s Get It On" (and occasionally “Tupelo Honey") while Ed’s song was in rotation. IMO it's reasonable to say these similarities could qualify as vibe only. But the similarity between the hooks of "Amazing" and "Photograph" feels like more than just vibe to me.
“Amazing” wasn’t a huge hit in the country of Ed’s residence but, it was out there on the airwaves, and in the zeitgeist, and he probably umm, heard it. More than once. Accessibility is something that must be shown in order to prove infringement, along with sufficient resemblance between the 2 compositions and the originality of the song allegedly being plagiarized.
Does public (or jury's) opinion get swayed by how much of a fan you are of the defendant? If you love Ed (and what’s not to love), does he get a pass? Or if you’re allergic to the guy, does he get the gong no matter what?
Personally, I can't help being a bit partial because he covered one of my songs. :)
(5 million views? Hmmm. I wonder how much YouTube paid me for that. A couple of hundred at best. But that’s another blog.)
Let’s face it. There aren't many Ed Sheeran haters. Sweet, darling Ed...with his scruffy un-Shawn Mendes looks. He's a word-play aficionado, has a voice from heaven and an accent you want to inhale. His records are sonically masterful. He's the prom date every High School girl dreams of. He pulls at her heartstrings and is adept at telling her what she is hungry to hear....what her boyfriend never tells her…and maybe no man ever will.
This may make you love him more or it may make you want to barf. But either way, and aside from the possibly calculated creative woo-ing, it’s obvious he's got an endless well of material and he’s not going to run out soon. He's the gift that keeps giving. Have you heard his new album? My faves are “Dive” and “New Man.”
I want to believe these 2 suits are sheer coincidence. Joe Bennett, musicologist at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, believes that indeed “Sheeran is most likely an example of the...aforementioned condition—Cryptomnesia—when you mistake a memory for a new idea, which can accidentally slip through in the songwriting process.”
Have a listen. What do you think?
HOOK at :46
HOOk at 1:11
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
P.S. Since posting this, a Facebook friend brought to my attention that there was yet a another lawsuit, which resulted in credit bering shared with the writers of TLC's '99 hit "No Scrubs", as it bared resemblance to Ed's recent #1 recent smash "Shape Of You."
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