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Ed Sheeran has won a high court battle over whether he plagiarized another artist’s track for his hit single Shape of You, the most streamed song in Spotify history.

In a trial last month, Sheeran and his Shape Of You co-writers John McDaid of Snow Patrol and producer Steve McCutcheon were accused of stealing the 2015 song Oh Why by Sami Chokri and Ross O ‘Donoghué.

On Wednesday, Judge Zacaroli found that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor unknowingly” copied a line from Oh Why while writing Shape of You.

The judge said that while there were “similarities” between the phrase of a bar which repeats the words “Oh why” in Chokri’s song and the repetition of “Oh I” in Sheeran’s, those similarities do not are “just a starting point” for a copyright. infringement claim, and there are also “significant differences” between the songs’ phrases.

Reacting to the decision, Sheeran called for an end to the “baseless allegations” of plagiarism.

In an Instagram video shared with his 37.7 million followers, the singer said: “Complaints like this are far too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even though there’s no basis for the claim, and it’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.

“There are only a limited number of notes and very few chords used in pop music and coincidences will happen if 60,000 songs are released a day on Spotify, or 22 million songs a year, and there are only 12 notes available.”

The singer said he didn’t want to “take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered on both sides of this case, but I just want to say I’m not an entity, I’m not a corporation, I’m a being. human, I am a father, I am a husband, I am a son.

“Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience and I hope that with this decision it means that in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really needs to stop.

Another joint statement with co-writers McDaid and McCutcheon noted that all three respect and acknowledge the music of their influences and collaborators, no matter “how successful something is.”

They said the case took a toll on “creativity” and their sanity. “When we get entangled in chases, we don’t make music or play shows. It’s impacting us and the wider circle of songwriters everywhere.

Chokri, a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch, and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue had claimed that the “Oh I” hook in Shape Of You was “strikingly similar” to the “Oh why” refrain from their piece.

Legal proceedings began in May 2018, with Sheeran and his co-authors asking the High Court to declare that they had not infringed the copyrights of Chokri and O’Donoghue. Sheeran also said his reputation had been tarnished by the allegations.

Two months later, Chokri and O’Donoghue filed their own suit for “copyright infringement, damages and profit account in connection with the alleged infringement”. Both parties expected costs in the region of £3m between them.

The judge dismissed Chokri’s counterclaim on Wednesday and granted a declaration to Sheeran and his co-writers that they had not infringed copyright in Oh Why.

He added: “As to Mr Sheeran, the justification for a declaratory relief has only been increased by the fact that although the matter concerns only Shape [of You]he was sued on the basis – which I reject – that he is a ‘magpie’ who usually deliberately copies and conceals the work of other songwriters.

Sheeran, who spent two days on the witness stand, told the court he was trying to ‘clear my name’ and denied using litigation to intimidate Chokri and O’Donoghue into dropping the dispute over the copyright.

The superstar frequently sang and hummed musical scales and melodies from Blackstreet’s No Diggity and Nina Simone’s classic Feeling Good to demonstrate just how mainstream the melody used by Shape of You is.

He said he uses “a basic minor pentatonic pattern” which is “quite unremarkable”.

The singer once gave the writers of TLC’s 90s hit No Scrubs credit on Shape of You after comparisons were made between the two songs.

Ian Mill QC, representing the writers of Shape of You, said the legal battle had been “deeply traumatising”, arguing the case should never have gone to trial.

Solicitor for the Oh Why co-writers, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, alleged that Sheeran’s lawyers had taken legal action because PRS for Music – the industry body that collects and distributes royalties – had “frozen” all royalties from Shape of You performances or broadcasts. .

He said the case is not about “the fame of the plaintiffs, it comes down to the fact that the defendants are not… Shaggy, Coldplay, Rihanna or Jay-Z. If they were, they would have been treated very differently.

Sheeran, it has been alleged, was targeted by a ‘concerted plan’ by Chokri’s former management to secure his interest in the singer, with Oh Why sent to those around the star, including the late founder of SBTV Jamal Edwards.

Chokri told the trial he felt “robbed” by the music star and was shocked when he first heard Shape Of You on the radio.

But the judge said Wednesday that the evidence “provides nothing more than a speculative basis” for Sheeran hearing Oh Why.

Shape Of You, which Sheeran said he originally considered to be performed by Rihanna or Little Mix, was a worldwide hit, becoming the UK’s best-selling song of 2017.



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