Ed Sheeran's fate is in the hands of a jury after a US judge ruled there were "substantial similarities" between his song and a Marvin Gaye soul classic.
Sheeran looks set to face trial in New York over accusations that he copied the 1973 Gaye Let's Get it On, hit in his own 2014 song, Thinking Out Loud.
The 27-year-old Yorkshireman was sued in June by Kathryn Townsend Griffin, who claims to own a partial copyright in Gaye's song, as an heir of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote it.
Sheeran asked Judge Louis Stanton to rule on the issue without trial, arguing that the two songs were not substantially similar and that any similarities were inconsequential. His lawyers insisted that Griffin did not have the legal right to sue.
Yet on Wednesday Stanton dismissed Sheeran's arguments, and set the case on a path towards trial by jury.
"Not only are there substantial similarities between several of the two works' musical elements, but an ordinary observer might experience the aesthetic appeal of both works as the same," wrote Stanton in his ruling.
"Even without considering the bass-line and drum parts, which are not present in the LGO deposit copy, the question whether TOL infringes on LGO should be determined by trial rather than summarily."
Stanton also noted that a jury "may be impressed by footage of a Sheeran performance which shows him seamlessly transitioning between LGO and TOL."
The case came about after a culture website, Spin, noted similarities between the two songs in 2015.
Ms Griffin, who works helping prostitutes in Houston, told the website that she was simply seeking to "do the right thing".
"I don't want [Sheeran] to be looked upon in an ugly light, I really don't," she said.
"I hate it that me and the family had to go to this measure to get their attention. I'm not looking for the public's attention. It's time for people to just do the right thing."
She said that she was contacted by a friend, who told her "this young British kid actually copied the music from dad's song".
She added: "The law is the law. If I went and rented a car, they're not gonna let me keep their car without paying them. And if I don't pay them, then I've broken the law."
Sheeran's record label, Atlantic Records, and his managers did not respond to The Telegraph's request for comment.
But the singer has been accused of copying music before.
Sheeran settled a $20 million copyright claim in August 2017 over his song Photograph, resolving the dispute out of court for an unspecified sum.
In November he also settled a suit brought by two Australian songwriters over a song he co-wrote with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill called The Rest Of Our Life.
The Australians were represented by Richard Busch, a lawyer who successfully sued Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over their smash hit Blurred Lines, on behalf of the Marvin Gaye Estate.
In March, Gaye's estate – which is not involved in this case – was awarded $5.3 million in damages from Williams and Thicke.
"I still wish Mr Sheeran all of the best," Griffin continued.
"I really think he comes off as a really nice guy.
"I think he's a talented person, I do like the song. I'd like the song better if he does right by my father's work. And I want my father's name added as one of the writers. If you're going to use the music, be fair! Be fair, that's all."
- The Telegraph