Ed Sheeran Trial’s Second Day of Testimony Interrupted by Plaintiff Collapsing in Court

The copyright case in which Ed Sheeran is being sued for allegedly lifting portions of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for his own “Thinking Out Loud” took on some unexpected drama Wednesday afternoon when the plaintiff, Kathryn Townsend Griffin, collapsed and had to be carried out of court, causing an interruption in otherwise routine testimony.

According to CNN, Townsend Griffin (pictured above left) — the daughter of “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Griffin — fainted about two minutes into the Sheeran team’s cross-examination of a musicologist who had been brought in to testify that there was a substantial similarity between the two songs.

The news channel reported that Townsend Griffin’s eyes closed and her legs buckled, leading members of both the Sheeran and Townsend Griffin legal teams to leap to her assistance and lift her by her arms and legs to a place where she could receive medical attention, amid shouts to call 911, before she was removed from court on a stretcher. Altogether, court proceedings were halted for about 15 minutes before testimony continued.

At the end of court proceedings, the judge inquired about Townsend Griffin and was told she had been taken to the hospital. There have been no additional updates about Townsend Griffin’s condition.

After the interruption, musicologist Alexander Stewart continued with his testimony, being cross-examined by Sheeran’s lawyer, Ilene Farkas. Although the focus of initial testimony in the case has been about melodic similarities, or the lack of them, Stewart testified that the two songs “have the same harmonic rhythm,” as well as sounding, in his view, “very, very similar.”

Earlier in the day’s testimony, according to Business Insider, laughter broke out in the courtroom when Stewart played a “soul-less” AI version of “Let’s Get It On” to demonstrate what he said were the basic similarities if you remove groove and other production elements from the tracks. Even Sheeran was reported to have chuckled as a computer voice “sang” the sexy lyrics.

Stewart maintained in playing the recording that both songs repeat the same four chords throughout their entirety. Other music experts who have weighed in independently about the case have said that only three of the four chords are exactly the same, and that these chords have been used in pop songs throughout history to underline songs with very different melodies and lyrics.

Townsend Griffin is one of three plaintiffs, along with Helen McDonald and the estate of Ed Griffin’s ex-wife, Cherrigale Townsend. Ed Griffin died in 2003; Gaye died in 1984.

Sheeran took the stand Tuesday, in what is expected to be the first of two occasions of his testimony in the trial. He responded to Townsend Griffin’s attorney playing a video of Sheeran mashing up the two songs in concert, saying: “I mash up songs at lots of gigs. Many songs have similar chords. You can go from ‘Let It Be’ to ‘No Woman No Cry’ and switch back. And quite frankly, if I’d done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.”

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