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The Legal Beat: Is An Ed Sheeran Video Too ‘Misleading’ For Trial? – Plus Bieber, Drake & More

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This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.

This week: Ed Sheeran’s lawyers move to ban a “misleading” concert clip from his upcoming copyright trial, Justin Bieber is sued over a 2022 shooting the occurred after his concert, Drake fights back against efforts to drag him into the XXXtentacion murder trial, and much more.

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THE BIG STORY: Ed Sheeran’s Lawyers Want Concert Footage Banned From Trial

Ed Sheeran is headed to trial in a few months over allegations that his smash hit “Thinking Out Loud” infringed Marvin Gaye‘s iconic “Let’s Get It On.” And unfortunately for Ed, there’s a video floating around on YouTube of him playfully switching back and forth between the two songs at a 2014 concert.

Unsurprisingly, Sheeran’s accusers (the heirs of Gaye’s co-writer Ed Townsend) want to play that video at the trial. They point to an earlier ruling in the case when the judge specifically noted that a clip of Sheeran “seamlessly transitioning” between the two songs might serve as key evidence in a jury trial.

But in a new filing last week, Sheeran’s lawyers asked that same judge to block the plaintiff’s from citing the video. The problem? They say the video is falsely incriminating – that it might look to jurors like damning evidence, but only actually shows that both songs contain a common chord progression.

“There are dozens if not hundreds of songs that predate and postdate [Let’s Get It On] utilizing the same or similar chord progression,” Sheeran’s lawyers wrote. “These medleys are irrelevant to any issue in the case and would be misleading [and] confuse the jury.”

For a full breakdown of Sheeran’s arguments – including their claim that the dispute could have a broader “chilling effect” on how artists perform at concerts – go read our story here.

Other top stories this week…

2022 SHOOTING LAWSUIT – Justin Bieber and Kodak Black were hit with a lawsuit over a shooting that occurred last year outside a pre-Super Bowl party that followed Bieber concert, filed by two men who say they were hit in the crossfire.

DRAKE’S DEPOSITION DRAMA – A Florida judge ordered Drake to sit for a deposition over the murder of XXXtentacion, but the superstar’s lawyers quickly fired back that he has no connection at all to the crime and that defense attorneys are merely trying to “add more layers of celebrity and notoriety” to the case.

ANTITRUST ANTICLIMAX – A federal appeals court rejected an antitrust lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster and Live Nation of exploiting its “impregnable market power” to foist inflated prices on hundreds of thousands of fans. Upholding an earlier ruling, the court said concertgoers forfeited their right to sue in court when they bought their tickets.

DEATH PENALTY SHOWDOWN – Lawyers for YNW Melly launched an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, seeking to overturn a ruling last year that said the rapper could face the death penalty if convicted in his upcoming murder trial. They say the state violated strict procedural requirements for seeking the death penalty.

MOFI SCANDAL SETTLED. OR IS IT? – Vinyl producer Mobile Fidelity reached a settlement that could be worth as much as $25 million to resolve allegations that the company’s pricey “all analog” records were secretly created using digital methods. But some customers are already objecting to the deal, saying it’s “tainted by the stink of collusion.”

YOUTUBE SCAMMER PLEADS GUILTY – Jose Teran, one of two men accused of orchestrating a $23 million scam to steal YouTube royalties from artists, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges on the eve of a looming trial. Along with business partner Webster Batista Fernandez (who already pleaded guilty), Teran stole millions from Latin artists under the name “MediaMuv” in what amounts to one of the largest royalty scams in history.

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