Ed Sheeran Shape of You plagiarism trial described as ‘traumatizing’ for singer


The lawyer representing Ed Sheeran in a plagiarism row over his hit song “Shape of You” has said the case “should never have gone to trial”.

The British singer-songwriter faces a wait to learn the outcome of a High Court dispute over the copyright of his 2017 single.

Sheeran and his co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon (also known as Steve Mac), deny that “Shape Of You” copies part of Sami Chokri’s 2015 track “Oh Why”.

Chokri – who performs under the name Sami Switch – and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue, claim that the “Oh I” hook in “Shape Of You” is “strikingly similar” to the “Oh Why” refrain in their own track .

Justice Zacaroli, who presided over the 11-day hearing, said he would “take some time to consider [his] judgment”, which he would deliver as soon as possible.

On Tuesday 22 March, the final day of the trial, the court heard closing arguments from Andrew Sutcliffe QC, representing Chokri and O’Donoghue.

He claimed there was an “indisputable similarity between the works” and suggested the chances of two songs that “correlate” appearing within months of each other was “minutely small”.

He also said that Sheeran had allegedly given “unsatisfactory” evidence, including over “denying that he interpolates, references or borrows music from others”.

Sami Chokri claims Ed Sheeran’s song Shape Of You is copied from his own song, Oh Why (Yui Mok/PA)

(PA Wire)

Earlier in the trial, he had called Sheeran a “magpie” who allegedly “borrows” ideas from other musicians.

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Ian Mill QC, for the “Shape of You” co-writers, has previously said that Sheeran and his co-writers were clear that they had “no preconceived ideas” when going into Rokstone Studios, where “Shape of You” was written, on 12 October 2016.

Much of the trial has focused on whether Sheeran had ever heard Chokri’s song “Oh Why”. The defendants have insisted the “Shape of You” writers had a chance to hear it, describing a “concerted plan” to get Sheeran to hear the track in the hope of getting his public endorsement from him.

They claim to have promoted “Oh Why” to a number of people in Sheeran’s circle, though not the singer himself.

Last week, musicology experts gave contrasting views on whether “Shape of You” had “significant similarities” or was “distinctively different” from “Oh Why”.

American forensic musicologist Anthony Ricigliano concluded in a report that it was “objectively unlikely” that any similarities between “Shape of You” and “Oh Why” “result from copying”.

However, Christian Siddell, another musicologist, reported that he found melodic similarities were “so numerous and striking that the possibility of independent creation is… highly improbable”.

“Shape of You” remains the most-streamed song of all time on Spotify, with more than three billion plays. It was the biggest-selling song of 2017.

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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