Ed Sheeran wins UK High Court battle over 2017 hit Shape of You

The singer and co-writers John McDaid and Steven McCutcheon were accused of ripping off Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue’s 2015 song Oh Why
Ed Sheeran wins UK High Court battle over 2017 hit Shape of You

By Tom Pilgrim, PA

Ed Sheeran’s 2017 hit Shape Of You does not infringe another artist’s copyright, a High Court judge has ruled in the UK.

At a trial last month, the singer and his Shape Of You co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, faced accusations that they ripped off the 2015 song Oh Why by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Mr Justice Zacaroli concluded that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase from Oh Why when writing Shape Of You.

The singer-songwriter and his co-authors originally launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the UK High Court to declare they had not infringed Chokri and O’Donoghue’s copyright.

Two months later, Chokri – a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch – and O’Donoghue issued their own claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement”.

The pair alleged that an “Oh I” hook in Shape Of You is “strikingly similar” to an “Oh Why” refrain in their own track.

During the 11-day trial at the Rolls Building in London, 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.

Ed Sheeran court case
Sami Chokri claimed Ed Sheeran’s hit Shape Of You copied part of his song Oh Why (Kirst O’Connor/PA)

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.

Lawyers for the Oh Why co-writers labelled Sheeran a “magpie”, alleging that he “habitually copies” other artists and that it was “extremely likely” he had previously heard Oh Why.

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

But lawyers for Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon said the allegations against them were “impossible to hold”, with the evidence pointing to Shape Of You being an “independent creation”.

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