Ed Sheeran triumphs in ‘Shape Of You’ copyright claim

Ed Sheeran has won a copyright lawsuit over his 2017 hit, Shape of You, but has spoken out against frivolous cash-grab copyright claims.

Ed Sheeran has triumphed in a copyright lawsuit over his 2017 hit, Shape of You. Sheeran and his collaborators, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid, and producer Steven McCutcheon, had denied allegations that the song reproduced the hook of 2015’s Oh Why by Sami Chokri, whose artist name is Sami Switch.

“While there are similarities between the Oh Why hook and the Oh I phrase [from Shape of You], there are also significant differences. I am satisfied that Mr Sheeran did not subconsciously copy Oh Why in creating Shape,” the High Court London judge asserted.

Ed Sheeran
Photo: Aaron Chown

Sheeran expressed relief upon winning the case, but expressed concern at the recent increase in copyright claims in popular music:

“Whilst we’re obviously happy with the result I feel like claims like this are way too common now and it’s become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking them to court, even if there’s no basis for the claim,” Sheeran said in a video posted on Twitter.

“It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”

Sheeran’s mega-hit, Shape of You, became the best-selling digital song across the globe in 2017, receiving over 5.6 billion hits on YouTube and over 3 billion plays on Spotify.

The artist faced accusations that he stole and altered the music and words of other artists, but Sheeran asserted he always credited other artists. He told the court he had never heard the Oh Why song before being accused of plagiarizing it.

Is the frequency of copyright claims increasing because more music is being created and heard than in any other time in history? Or are lesser-known artists taking advantage of lucrative settlements within a pop, which possesses limited musical material?

Perhaps it’s best to leave the final word to Ed Sheeran, who notes:

“There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music; coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify, that’s 22 million songs a year.”