Ed Sheeran wins 'Shape of You' copyright case: "This really does have to end"

6 April 2022, 11:10

By Mayer Nissim

A high court judge rules that Ed didn't rip off 'Oh Why' by Sami Chokri.

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Ed Sheeran has won a copyright case over his massive single 'Shape of You'.

Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue had claimed that Ed's 2017 hit had ripped off their own song 'Oh Why', which was released by Chorki under the name Sam Switch in 2015.

Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran "neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied" 'Oh Why' when writing 'Shape Of You', BBC News reports.

Sheeran wrote 'Shape Of You' together with Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid and Steven McCutcheon aka Steve Mac.

Co-writers of TLC's '90s smash 'No Scrubs' Kandi Burruss, Kevin 'She'kspere' Briggs and Tameka Cottle were also given credit as 'Shape of You' borrows elements from that song.

Ed Sheeran arrives at court for the hearing
Ed Sheeran arrives at court for the hearing. Picture: Alamy

Of the claim that Sheeran had heard 'Oh Why' before writing his own song, the judge added: "I find, as a matter of fact, that he had not heard it."

In his ruling, the judge did note "similarities" between the "Oh why" hook in Chorki's song and the "Oh I" refrain in 'Shape of You', but said that it was "only a starting point" for a possible copyright infringement case.

Given that there were "differences between the relevant parts" of the two songs, he decided that the key moment in Ed's song was inspired by something that wasn't Chorki's song.

In a video posted on social media, Ed said: "While I was obviously happy with the result, I feel like claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there's no base for the claim.

"It's really damaging for the songwriting industry. There's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music.

"Coincidences are bound to happen if there are 60,000 songs being released ever day on Spotify – that's 22 million songs a year and there are only 12 notes that are available."

He added: "I don't want to take anything away from the pain and hurt from both sides of this case, but I just want to say I'm not an entity, I'm not a corporation – I'm a human being, I'm a father, I'm a husband, I'm a son.

"Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience and I hope with this ruling it means baseless claims can be avoided. This really does have to end.

"Me, Johnny and Steve are very grateful for all the support sent to us by fellow songwriter over the last few weeks. Hopefully we can all get back to writing songs rather than having to prove that we can write them."

The case dates back to 2018. Sheeran and his co-writers were barred by music licensing body PRS for Music from collecting millions of pounds in royalties and they asked the high court to declare that they hadn't illegally copied 'Oh Why'.

Chokri and O'Donoghue issued a claim for "copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement" in turn.

'Shape Of You' was released as a single in January 2017, and featured on Ed's album ÷ (Divide) three months later.

It went to number one in the UK and was the highest selling and most-streamed track of the year, and has since racked up over 3 billion streams on Spotify and 5.6 billion streams on YouTube.