Singer Ed Sheeran and his “Shape Of You” co-writers Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac were found not guilty by the London High Courts.
Over £20m in royalties for the 2017 hit song had been frozen until the claim of copyright infringement was resolved. 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; however, he could not prove that Sheeran had actually heard the song when questioned in court.
Shortly after the verdict, Ed Sheeran released a personal statement on Instagram in addition to the joint statement they released, which can be read below.
Ed Sheeran & ‘Shape Of You’ Co-Writers Say The Lawsuit Was ‘A Cost On Creativity’
After being cleared of the plagiarism charge on April 6 by Judge Anthony Zacaroli, all three “Shape Of You” writers released a joint statement shared by the Independent that can be read in full below.
“There was a lot of talk throughout this case about cost. But there is more than just a financial cost,” they began. “There is a cost on creativity. When we are tangled up in law suits, we are not making music or playing shows.”
“There is a cost on our mental health,” they continued. “The stress this causes on all sides is immense. It affects so many aspects of our everyday lives and the lives of our families and friends. We are not corporations. We are not entities. We are human beings. We are songwriters. We do not want to diminish the hurt and pain anyone has suffered through this, and at the same time, we feel it is important to acknowledge that we too have had our own hurts and life struggles throughout the course of this process.”
“There is an impact on both us and the wider circle of songwriters everywhere,” they added. “Our hope in having gone through all of this, is that it shows that there is a need for a safe space for all songwriters to be creative, and free to express their hearts. That is why we all got into this in the first place. Everyone should be able to freely express themselves in music, in art and do so fearlessly.”
“At the same time, we believe that there should be due process for legitimate and warranted copyright protection,” they said. “However, that is not the same as having a culture where unwarranted claims are easily brought. This is not constructive or conducive to a culture of creativity.”
Ed Sheeran & ‘Shape Of You’ Writers Insist ‘We Did Not Copy The Defendants’ Song’
“We are grateful that Mr Justice Zacaroli has delivered a clear and considered judgment which supports the position we have argued from the outset,” they wrote. “‘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,” they continued. “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,” they went on. “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.”
“We are very grateful for all the messages of love, hope and support we received throughout the course of this case from songwriters everywhere,” they wrote. “Thank you also to our publishers, who stood shoulder to shoulder with us at every step of the way. We are privileged to do what we do, and we know that. We want to live in a world where we are free to do what we do, openly and honourably.”
“While this has been one of the most difficult things we have ever been through in our professional lives, we will continue to stand up against baseless claims, and protect our rights and the integrity of our musical creativity, so we that can continue to make music, always.”
“Our message to songwriters everywhere is: Please support each other. Be kind to one another,” they concluded. “Let’s continue to cultivate a spirit of community and creativity.”