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Judge Rules Ed Sheeran Did Not Copy Number One Hit Shape Of You

Jake Massey

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Judge Rules Ed Sheeran Did Not Copy Number One Hit Shape Of You

Ed Sheeran has won a High Court battle over his 2017 hit 'Shape Of You'. The musician has now spoken out about the case - watch here:

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A judge ruled today (Wednesday 6 April) that the singer-songwriter had not plagiarised the 2015 song 'Oh Why' by Sami Chokri.

Sheeran and his 'Shape Of You' co-writers - Snow Patrol's John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon - had denied ripping off the tune by the grime artist.

In a joint statement, Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon said: "We are grateful that Mr. Justice Zacaroli has delivered a clear and considered judgment which supports the position we have argued from the outset. 'Shape of You' is original. We did not copy the defendants' song.

"We respect the music of those who've come before us and have inspired us along the way, whoever they are. We have always sought to clear or to acknowledge our influences and collaborators. It doesn't matter how successful something appears to be, we still respect it.

"It is so painful to hear someone publicly, and aggressively, challenge your integrity.

"It is so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you have done something that you haven't done and would never do." 

Sheeran said the case had caused 'immense' stress. Credit: Alamy
Sheeran said the case had caused 'immense' stress. Credit: Alamy

Chokri, who performs under the name Sami Switch, and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue, claimed an 'Oh I' hook in 'Shape Of You' is 'strikingly similar' to an 'Oh Why' refrain in their track.

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

In July 2018, Chokri and 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 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.

The singer 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'.

But the 'Oh Why' co-writers' lawyer, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, labelled Sheeran a 'magpie', claiming he 'habitually copies' other artists and that it is 'extremely likely' he had previously heard 'Oh Why'.

He alleged that Sheeran’s lawyers brought the legal proceedings because PRS for music – the industry body that collects and distributes royalties – had 'frozen' payments for UK broadcast and performance income from 'Shape Of You'.

Sheeran was targeted with a 'concerted plan' by Chokri's former management to secure his interest in the 'Oh Why' singer, the court was told, with 'Oh Why' being sent to those around the star.

It was also claimed Sheeran must have been aware of Chokri because they appeared on YouTube channel SBTV at about the same time, they shared friends, Chokri had sent messages to him on Twitter, and Sheeran had allegedly shouted his name at a performance.

Chokri told the trial he felt 'robbed' by the music star and was left 'shocked' when he first heard 'Shape Of You' on the radio.

Musicology experts gave contrasting views at the trial over whether 'Shape Of You' has 'significant similarities' or is 'distinctively different' from 'Oh Why'.

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

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News, Music, Ed Sheeran

Jake Massey
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