Pryor Cashman Partners Ilene Farkas (co-chair of the Music Group) and Donald Zakarin (co-chair of the Litigation Group) spoke with Law360 for a feature article about their successful representation of star singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran in his landmark copyright trial.

In "How Pryor Cashman Steered Ed Sheeran Copyright Case," Don and Ilene describe their approach to the case, defending Sheeran against a copyright infringement claim over his song "Thinking Out Loud."

The article describes the long and complex path to victory in the trial, which included "COVID-19 delays, media scrutiny and changing theories of the case by the plaintiffs — including some shifts just weeks before trial."

Don said that the result, with the jury supporting Sheeran's defense that he independently created "Thinking Out Loud" and did not infringe "Let's Get It On" after just 2.5 hours of deliberation, sent "an important message to songwriters out there and to would-be claimants" that these sorts of copyright infringement claims aren't likely to succeed.

Don and Ilene said that while their strategy at trial was to highlight the differences between the allegedly similar musical elements at issue, and to highlight the commonplace nature of the alleged similarities between the two songs, Ilene also noted, "At the end of the day, no matter how similar two songs may be — and here there were very limited similarities — if the defendants independently created their song without any reference to the plaintiffs' song, then that's it. That's a complete defense to copyright infringement."

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