Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Ed Sheeran and others are involved in a lawsuit filed Wednesday (Jan. 10) in a New York federal court over the song “The Rest of Our Life.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, two Australian-based songwriters are accusing Sheeran and co-writers Johnny McDaid, Steve McCutcheon, and Amy Wadge, along with their respective publishing companies, of “blatant copying” of a song they wrote called “When I Found You.”
McGraw and Hill were named in the suit because they recorded “The Rest of Our Life” for their recently-released duets album of the same name. Sony Music’s Arista Nashville, the couple’s record label, was also named in the lawsuit.
“The copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the Song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer,” the plaintiffs, Sean Carey and Beau Golden, state in the complaint.
“When I Found You” performer Jasmine Rae and the two songwriters were allegedly alerted of the similarities of the two songs after a fan pointed it out on Twitter. They decided to listen to both songs and immediately began to take steps toward legal action.
The suit also claims that Sony employees were aware of how similar the songs were, but did nothing about it. Rae supposedly tried to involve her boyfriend, Tim Holland, a marketing manager for Sony, in the conversations about the suit.
“During this conversation, Mr. Holland admitted to knowing about the Infringing Song months in advance of its release because he was tasked with promoting and marketing the Infringing Song and Infringing Sound Recording before its release,” the complaint states. “When questioned by Plaintiffs as to his silence about the similarities between ‘When I Found You’ and the Infringing Song/Infringing Sound Recording, Mr. Holland stated he did not want to lose his job with Sony Music. … When pressed further by Plaintiffs, Mr. Holland indicated that he had known that the songs were substantially similar for more than two months prior to the October 5, 2017 release date of the Infringing Song/Infringing Sound Recording.”
The plaintiffs claim that Holland shared Rae’s “When I Found You” with the defendants “in an effort to gain exposure for Ms. Rae and promote her work.” An alternative theory suggests that Sheeran was exposed to the song during his Australian tour, which happened to be the time that “When I Found You” was garnering its most airplay on Australian radio.
According to the lawsuit, Rae was initially interested in suing the songwriters and publishers of “The Rest of Our Life,” but not McGraw, Hill, or Sony. She is not named in the suit that was filed, presumably because of her relationship with Holland.
“He works directly with the Tim and Faith label team in Nashville,” Rae allegedly wrote in an email to Carey and Golden, according to the lawsuit. “Taking such action would compromise both his position and that of the people he reports to and this is not something I’m prepared to do.”
Nashville-based attorney Richard Busch, who represented Marvin Gaye’s family in the infamous “Blurred Lines” lawsuit is representing Carey and Golden. The suit seeks a permanent injunction to block the use of the song, $5 million in damages, as well as profits, royalties, and attorney fees.