Marvin Gaye's heirs aren't newbies to protecting what they perceive to be their interests in the iconic musician's legacy. They've previously successfully sued songwriters and artists Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. In the past lawsuit, they claimed the duo ripped off part of one of Marvin Gaye's songs to create a new song. The heirs are now suing singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran for the same reason.
Gaye's heirs – along with the heirs of a songwriter who worked with Gaye – are claiming that Sheeran used a major piece of the song "Let's Get it On." The lawsuit claims Sheeran repackaged the "heart" of Gaye's song into his top hit "Thinking Out Loud" without making enough changes for the new song to be considered an independent creation.
The lawsuit against Thicke and Williams resulted in a jury decision for a $7.3 million award. The jury award was reduced by a judge in the case, but the heirs still won $3.2 million. The Sheeran case is just being entered, but it will be interesting to see whether the Gaye heirs triumph again.
Meanwhile, many people across the country are dealing with estates and inheritances of their own. One of the things to consider as an heir or estate administrator is how best to protect those assets or uphold the legacy of the one who left them behind. While solid estate planning by the deceased before he or she passed away is a good start, it can be difficult for heirs to protect some creative or intellectual assets.
Working with an estate law professional can help you understand what assets you have rights to. A lawyer can also provide advice about how to protect those assets from others.
Source: Electronic Urban Report, "'Let's Get it On' songwriter's heirs suing Ed Sheeran for theft," Aug. 11, 2016