Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Ed Sheeran and Nirvana Win in Court

Breaking news from the Intellectual Property front: musician Ed Sheeran scores a big court win, while the Nirvana Nevermind baby swings and misses for the third time.

The Grammy-winning Sheeran won an 11-day copyright battle in London over his smash hit “The Shape of You,” which was the biggest-selling song in the UK in 2017. Sheeran and his co-writers were sued for plagiarism by the composers of “Oh Why,” a song released two years earlier by Sami Switch. The plaintiffs alleged “The Shape of You” contains elements lifted from “Oh Why.” But the presiding judge ruled Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” borrowed from the plaintiffs’ song.

“Whilst we’re obviously happy with the result, I feel like claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no basis for the claim,” Sheeran said in a public statement.


Bad News for Nevermind Baby

Singing a sadder song was Spencer Elden, who in 1991 appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s second LP Nevermind as a nude baby.

For several years, Elden has been pursuing legal claims against Nirvana for “[leveraging] the lascivious nature of his image” to promote Nevermind “while earning, at a minimum, tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate.” Nirvana’s lawyers responded to his most recent attempt by asking the court to dismiss his second amended complaint with prejudice.

“For Elden, this is strike three,” the lawyers said in their motion, according to The Independent. “This case must end. The time has run. Elden’s decision to not sue these defendants for the past 30 years, despite his decades-long knowledge of their same and unvaried conduct, is dispositive of his claim. It is as simple as that.”

Sources: Ed Sheeran wins 'Shape of You' plagiarism case | CNN

Nirvana Blasts Amended 'Nevermind' Baby Lawsuit As 'Strike Three' - Rolling Stone


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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