Ed Sheeran wins Shape of You High Court copyright battle

Ed Sheeran wins Shape of You High Court copyright battle

Ed Sheeran has won a High Court battle over whether his hit Shape of You copied another artist’s song.

Two songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, had alleged that Ed’s 2017 hit infringed on ‘particular lines and phrases’ from their track, Oh Why.

Sheeran and his Shape of You co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, were accused of ripping off the 2015 song, however, 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.

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

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


In July 2018, Chokri and Mr 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 explosive 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.

In the trial Sheeran 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.

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