Ed Sheeran, a multiple Grammy Award-winning songwriter, had another win–a UK copyright fight over his 2017 hit song, “Shape of You.” He went on to complain about what he said was a culture of frivolous lawsuits designed to extract money from artists who wish to avoid an expensive trial. At issue: a claim that he and his co-writers–producer Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid of Snow Patrol–copied parts of Sami Chokri’s 2015 “Oh Why” for their hit song. The lawyer for Chokri (whose stage name is Sami Switch) argued that there was a striking similarity between the two compositions, and claimed that Sheeran must have had his client’s song in his head when he wrote “Shape of You” in 2016.
Sheehan said he was happy with the judge’s decision but is angry with what he sees as all-too-common lawsuits that claim copyright infringement against artists but have no merit, from those that believe the artist will offer a settlement rather than take it to court. He maintains that such an environment is “damaging to the songwriting industry.”
The plaintiffs in the copyright case continue to believe that the chorus’s refrain, “Oh I, Oh I, Oh I” in “Shape of You” was very similar to the line “Oh why, Oh why, Oh why” in their song, written a year earlier.
During the trial, Sheeran denied Chokri’s allegations that he borrows ideas from lesser-known songwriters without permission and claimed that he always fairly credit those who contribute to his recordings.
In the ruling, High Court Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled in favor of Sheeran, saying that he did not, either deliberately or subconsciously, copy the “Oh Why” phrase for his track.
The trio, now exonerated, said that it was painful to have to publicly defend yourself against baseless allegations.
“Shape of You” was the U.K.’s top-selling song in 2017.