Ed Sheeran prevails in Shape Of You copyright case

Sami Chokri had claimed Sheeran plagiarised his song Oh Why.

Ed Sheeran

Image: John Phillips / Getty

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After a High Court battle in the UK, a judge has ruled that Ed Sheeran did not plagiarise Sami Chokri’s song Oh Why when writing his hit Shape Of You.

Judge Antony Zacaroli has ruled that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” Chokri’s song.

Chokri, who performs under the alias Sami Switch, had claimed that the “Oh I” refrain in Shape Of You was “strikingly similar” to his “Oh why” refrain in his track of the same name.

However, Zacaroli’s ruling stated that the similarity was a coincidence, and that it was likely true that Sheeran had not heard Chokri’s song before writing Shape Of You. Also involved in the case were Shape Of You’s co-writers, Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac. McDaid, Mac and Sheeran all denied remembering hearing Chokri’s track before writing the song.

Sheeran issued a short video statement following the verdict, outlining his opinion on the case and the recent spate of similar lawsuits. He argues that, even if there is no base for their claims, claimants hope that the writers of the bigger hit will view a settlement as cheaper than going to court, and so they will earn a quick buck. Sheeran described the practice as “really damaging to the industry,” and explained how, even though he was pleased with the eventual outcome, he was frustrated that the case took place regardless.

Sheeran, Mac and McDaid also issued a joint statement following the verdict. Read it below.

“There was a lot of talk throughout this case about cost. But there is more than just a financial cost. “There is a cost on creativity. When we are tangled up in lawsuits, we are not making music or playing shows.

“There is a cost on our mental health. 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. 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. 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.

“We are grateful that Mr. Justice Zacaroli has delivered a clear and considered judgement which supports the position we have argued from the outset. 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. 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.

“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. 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. Let’s continue to cultivate a spirit of community and creativity.”

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