Ed Sheeran has come to a deal to end a $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit brought by two songwriters, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, over his hit, “Photograph.”
On Friday, court papers were filed dismissing the case with prejudice, but also stipulating that a California federal court would retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of an agreement.
Although the parties including co-defendants Sony/ATV and Warner Music didn’t disclose the nature of the settlement terms in a court filing, songwriting credits in the BMI database now have added Harrington and Leonard as co-authors along with Sheeran and Johnny McDaid. What’s more, it appears that the two plaintiffs have gained a significant share of royalties. Before the lawsuit, 100 percent of the work was controlled by BMI, which administers the public performance of McDaid’s works, but now that percentage has dropped to 82.5 percent as Leonard has an ASCAP affiliation.
Harrington and Leonard, along with their publishing company HaloSongs, filed the lawsuit in June 2016, alleging that “Photograph” derived from their 2009 work “Amazing,” which was recorded and released as a single by Matt Cardle, the winner of the 2010 season of the television competition show The X Factor. They were represented in court by Richard Busch, the attorney who prevailed at trial on behalf of the Marvin Gaye family in the copyright lawsuit over “Blurred Lines.”
The complaint, which charged “verbatim, note-for-note copying,” and included sheet music to prove it, was initially challenged on pleading standards and jurisdiction, but in January a judge let it move forward.
The defendants were represented by Michael Niborski and Ilene Farkas at Pryor Cashman.
This story has been updated to reflect new information from BMI’s database.