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Ed Sheeran Wins ‘Shape of You’ Copyright Infringement Case

By Oreoritse Tariemi
06 April 2022   |   10:08 am
British singer Ed Sheeran has won the High Court copyright infringement case in England over his 2017 single Shape of You.  The judge ruled that Sheeran's Shape of You and his co-writers, Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac, did not plagiarise Sami Chokri's 2015 song Oh Why. Songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue had alleged that Sheeran's 2017…

Ed Sheeran PHOTO:AFP

British singer Ed Sheeran has won the High Court copyright infringement case in England over his 2017 single Shape of You

The judge ruled that Sheeran’s Shape of You and his co-writers, Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac, did not plagiarise Sami Chokri’s 2015 song Oh Why.

Songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue had alleged that Sheeran’s 2017 hit single had infringed on ‘particular lines and phrases from their 2015 track, Oh Why.

In 2018, the Shape of You writers launched legal proceedings requesting that the High Court declare they had not infringed on the copyright. While Chokri and O’Donoghue issued a counterclaim two months later.

At the 11-day trial in London in March, Ed Sheeran denied borrowing ideas from other songwriters without acknowledgement. Speaking to the court, he revealed that he “always tried to be completely fair” in crediting his contributors, adding that he was using the opportunity of the trial to clear his name.

Also, in their testimony, Sheeran, McDaid and Mac all denied being aware of “Oh Why” before writing “Shape Of You.

However, in today’s ruling, Justice Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran’ neither deliberately nor subconsciously’ copied a phrase from the track when writing Shape of You.

In a video statement posted to Twitter celebrating his win, Sheeran said, “While we’re obviously happy with the result, I feel like claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court. Even if there’s no base for the claim. It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry. There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify.”

“I don’t want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered by both sides of this case, but I just want to say that I’m not an entity. I’m not a corporation. I’m a human being. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a son. Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience, and I hope with this ruling it means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided.”

Ed Sheeran released Shape of You in 2017 as one of the lead singles off his third studio album, Divide. The Shape of You became a worldwide hit, winning Sheeran a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. It was the best selling song of 2017 and remains Spotify’s most-streamed track with over three billion streams.