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Judge rules in favor of Ed Sheeran in ‘Shape Of You’ plagiarism case

A British judge has ruled in favor of Ed Sheeran in the plagiarism lawsuit over his hit ‘Shape Of You’.

The singer and his co-writers – Snow Patrol musician Johnny McDaid and music producer Steve McCutcheon – had been accused of ripping off Sam Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue’s 2015 single “Oh Why”.

However, in a ruling on Wednesday, Judge Zacaroli said the writers did not “deliberately or unknowingly” copy any section of “Oh Why” when creating “Shape Of You.”

In his ruling, Zacaroli said, “Listening to the sounds as a whole…the two phrases play very different roles in their respective songs.

“The OW Hook (in Oh Why) is the central part of the song and captures the slow, brooding and questioning mood of the song.

“Without diminishing its importance, the phrase OI (in Shape of You) plays a very different role – something catchy to fill the bar before each repeated phrase ‘I’m in love with your body’.”

Sheeran arrived in court last month at the start of the trial.

Neil Mockford via Getty Images

He added: “The use of the first four notes of the rising minor pentatonic scale for the melody is so short, simple, banal and obvious in the context of the rest of the song that it is not believable that Mr. Sheeran was inspired by other songs to accompany it.

“As to the combination of evidence relied upon by the defendants, even if Mr. Sheeran had gone for inspiration, then Oh Why is far from an obvious source, given the stark contrast between the dark vibe created by OW Hook in Oh Why and the upbeat dance feel Mr. Sheeran was looking to create with Shape.

Following the decision, Sheeran and his co-authors issued a joint statement, in which they spoke of the “pain” of having their integrity questioned.

“There has been a lot of discussion throughout this case about the cost. But there is more than just a financial cost,” they said.

“There is a cost to creativity. When we’re entangled in lawsuits, we don’t make music or play shows.

“There is a cost to our mental health. The stress this causes on all sides is immense. It affects so many aspects of our daily lives and the lives of our families and friends.

Judge rules in favor of Ed Sheeran in ‘Shape Of You’ plagiarism case
Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid in 2013

Bryan Steffy via Getty Images

They continued: “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 that anyone has suffered through this, and at the same time we feel it is important to recognize that we too have had our own hurts and life struggles throughout this process. .

“There is an impact on us and on the wider circle of songwriters everywhere. Our hope of having been through all of this is that it shows that there is a need for a safe space for all songwriters are creative and free to express their hearts, that’s why we all got into this, everyone should be able to express themselves freely in music, in art and do it without fear.

“At the same time, we believe there should be due process for legitimate and guaranteed copyright protection. However, this is not the same as having a culture where unjustified complaints are easily made. It is neither constructive nor conducive to a culture of creativity.

The trio added that they were “grateful” for the outcome of the case, reiterating that they “did not copy the defendants’ songs”.

Judge rules in favor of Ed Sheeran in ‘Shape Of You’ plagiarism case
Johnny McDaid arrived in court last month.

Neil Mockford via Getty Images

“We respect the music of those who have come before us and inspired us along the way, whoever they are,” they added. “We have always sought to erase or recognize our influences and our collaborators. No matter how successful something is, we always respect it.

“It’s so painful to hear someone publicly and aggressively challenge your integrity. It’s so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you did something you didn’t do and that you didn’t do. would never do.

“We are so grateful for all the messages of love, hope and support we have received throughout this matter from songwriters around the world. Thank you also to our editors, who have supported every step of the way. We are privileged to do what we do, and we know it. We want to live in a world where we are free to do what we do, openly and honorably.

“Although this has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through in our professional lives, we will continue to stand up to baseless claims and protect our rights and the integrity of our musical creativity, so that we can continue to make music, always.

“Our message to songwriters around the world is: please support each other. Be good to each other. Let’s continue to cultivate community and creativity.

Sheeran and his co-authors originally launched a lawsuit in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare that they had not infringed Chokri and O’Donoghue’s copyrights.

Two months later, Chokri – a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch – and O’Donoghue filed their own suit for “copyright infringement, damages and profit account related to the alleged infringement”.

The pair alleged that an “Oh I” hook in Shape Of You is “strikingly similar” to an “Oh Why” chorus in their own track.

During the 11-day trial at the Rolls Building in London, Sheeran denied “borrowing” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgment and insisted he “always tried to be completely fair” in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

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