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(Credit: Harald Krichel)

Music

Ed Sheeran wins ‘Shape of You’ copyright infringement case

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has won the High Court copyright dispute concerning the originality of his 2017 hit ‘Shape of You’ following a high-profile trial. The judge ruled that Sheeran and his co-writers, Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac, did not plagiarise Sami Chokri’s 2015 track ‘Oh Why’.

In the ruling, the judge asserted that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase from ‘Oh Why’ when writing ‘Shape of You’, as Sheeran had insisted throughout the trial.

In a video posted to Twitter, Sheeran stated: “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.”

He continued, “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.”

Chokri, a London-based rap artist who performs under the name Sami Switch, and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue sued Sheeran, McDaid and Mac for copyright infringement over alleged similarities between the two songs. 

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

During the 11-day trial in March, Sheeran denied that he “borrows” ideas from other songwriters. He told the court he “always tried to be completely fair in crediting his contributors,” asserting that he was using this as an opportunity to clear his name amid other such accusations over the course of his successful career.

Listen to Sami Switch’s ‘Oh Why’ below.