Singer Ed Sheeran is opening up about his “Shape Of You” copyright lawsuit.
Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue claimed that Sheeran’s 2017 single “Shape Of You” stole “particular lines and phrases” from their 2015 song “Oh Why.” Chokri claims that he actually sent “Oh Why” to Sheeran in the hopes of collaborating; however, he could not state with any certainty if anyone actually played the song for Sheeran when questioned under oath.
The “Bad Habits” singer has not seen any of his £20m in royalties, which have been frozen until claims of copyright infringement have been resolved. However, it looks like he’ll get his money soon, as the London High Court found Ed Sheeran and his two “Shape Of You” songwriting collaborators – Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and Steve Mac – not guilty.
Ed Sheeran Says ‘Hopefully We Can All Get Back To Writing Songs Rather Than Having To Prove That We Can Write Them’
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On Wednesday morning, the “Overpass Graffiti” singer posted a minute-long video to his Instagram page. In the caption, he wrote, “Dealing with a lawsuit recently. We won and I wanted to share a few words about it all x”
“Hey guys,” he began. “Me, Johnny, and Steve have made a joint statement that will be press released on the outcome of this case, but I wanted to make a small video to talk about it a bit, because I’ve not really been able to say anything while this has been going on.”
“While I’m obviously happy with the result, I feel like claims like this are way too common now and we’ve become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking people to court even if there’s no basis for the claim.”
“It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry,” he continued. “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. That’s 22 million songs a year and there’s only 12 notes there available.”
“I don’t want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered from both sides of this case, but I just want to say 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,” he continued. “And I hope with this ruling, it means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end. Me, Johnny, and Steve are very grateful for all the support sent to us by fellow songwriters over the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can all get back to writing songs rather than having to prove that we can write them. Thank you.”
Comments on the video had been disabled.
Judge Rules That Ed Sheeran ‘Neither Deliberately Nor Subconsciously Copied’ Chokri’s Song
According to the BBC, Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that the “Perfect” singer had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” Chokri’s 2015 song “Oh Why” when creating his 2017 hit song, “Shape Of You.”
The judge admitted that there were “similarities between the one-bar phrase” in the two songs, but said that “such similarities are only a starting point for a possible infringement” of copyright.
He added that there were “differences between the relevant parts” of the two songs, which provided “compelling evidence that the ‘Oh I’ phrase” in Sheeran’s song “originated from sources other than ‘Oh Why.’”
Although Chokri said that he had sent “Oh Why” to several people in Sheeran’s circle, the judge said there was only a “speculative foundation” that Sheeran had actually heard the song. Sheeran denied hearing the song when he testified in his own defense and the judge concluded, “I find, as a matter of fact, that he had not heard it.”
During the trial, Ed Sheeran had explained how commonplace the melody is in pop music by singing parts of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
“If you put them all in the same key, they’ll sound the same,” he explained in his testimony, which was reported by the BBC. At one point, Sheeran was accused of lifting other melodies for his songs and was asked, “Your approach is to take it, change it, and make lots of money, isn’t it?”
Sheeran denied the accusation and claimed that a “musicologist went over the song and found similarities and we changed the similarities.”