Ed Sheeran insisted he'd be "an idiot" to perform a mash up of 'Thinking Out Loud' and Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get it On' if he'd ripped off the latter song.
The 32-year-old singer took the stand in a New York federal court on Tuesday (25.04.23) to defend himself in the copyright infringement case brought by the heirs of late songwriter Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the classic soul hit, and insisted the 2014 concert footage of him singing the two tracks was not the "smoking gun" that the lawyers of Kathryn Griffin Townsend claimed it to be.
He said: "You could go from 'Let it Be' to 'No Woman, No Cry' and switch back.
"If I had done what you're accusing me of doing, I'd be a quite an idiot to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.
"It is my belief that most pop songs are built on building blocks that have been freely available for 100s of years."
Ed insisted he often mashes together songs with similar chords at his concerts and named a number of other tracks that shared the same progressions, including 'Someone You Loved' by Lewis Capaldi and Van Morrison's 'Crazy Love', before growing frustrated when his response was cut off.
The 'Shape Of You' hitmaker also appeared frustrated when he wasn't allowed to "give some context" to his lyrics that were quoted by lawyer Keisha Rice.
The attorney asked him about his track 'Take It Back', which features the line, "Plagiarism is hidden".
Ed replied: "Those are my lyrics, yep. Can I give some context to them?"
But the lawyer hit back that she would ask if she needed more context.
The 'Drunk' singer claimed 'Thinking Out Loud' came from an emotional conversation about his grandparents' relationship with co-writer Amy Wadge - who is due to testify later this week - but the pair no longer talk about the song.
He quipped: "To be honest, all this stuff has put me off [talking about and listening to 'Thinking Out Loud']"
The trial is expected to last around a week but if the jury finds Ed liable for copyright infringement, it will enter a second phase to determine how much he and his record labels owe in damages.