Ed Sheeran wins 'Shape of You' copyright case

All three Shape Of You co-authors denied allegations of copying and said they do not remember hearing Oh Why before the legal fight.
Ed Sheeran wins 'Shape of You' copyright case
Ed SheeranBBC

English singer and songwriter, Ed Sheeran, has won a High Court battle over whether his hit song Shape of You copied another artist’s song.

Two songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, had alleged that Ed’s 2017 hit infringed on ‘particular lines and phrases’ from their 2015 track, 'Oh Why.'

Ed Sheeran and his Shape of You co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, were accused of ripping off Oh Why.

However, in a ruling on Wednesday, Mr Justice Zacaroli concluded that Sheeran ‘neither deliberately nor subconsciously’ copied a phrase from the track when writing Shape of You.

Shape Of You became a worldwide hit, becoming UK's best-selling song of 2017 and the most streamed track in Spotify’s history.

In a statement released shortly after the verdict from Sheeran, McDaid and Mac, the three songwriters said the case was ‘more than just a financial cost.’

Chokri, a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch, and his co-writer O’Donoghue, had claimed an ‘Oh I’ hook in Shape Of You was ‘strikingly similar to an ‘Oh Why’ refrain in their track.

During the trial, Sheeran had denied he ‘borrows’ ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgement and insisted that he ‘always tried to be completely fair’ in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

The Shape Of You co-authors launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare they had not infringed Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue’s copyright.

In July 2018, Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue issued their own claim for ‘copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement.’

During an 11-day explosive trial in London last month, Sheeran denied he ‘borrows’ ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgement and insisted he ‘always tried to be completely fair’ in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

In the trial Sheeran told the court he was trying to ‘clear my name’ and denied using litigation to ‘intimidate’ Chokri and O’Donoghue into abandoning the copyright dispute.

All three Shape Of You co-authors denied allegations of copying and said they do not remember hearing Oh Why before the legal fight.

Ian Mill QC, representing the three men, said the legal battle had been ‘deeply traumatising’, arguing the case should never have reached trial.

He claimed the case against them is ‘impossible to hold’, alleging evidence supports the argument that Shape of You was an ‘independent creation.’

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