On April 6, 2022, Ed Sheeran won a U.K. copyright lawsuit, with the High Court concluding that Sheeran’s song “Shape of You” “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a portion of a 2015 song by Sami Chokri.
Sheeran’s 2017 song “Shape of You” (co-written with John McDaid and Steven McCutcheon) was an international hit and the number one selling song of that year in the U.K. Chokri, a singer who performs under the stage name “Sami Switch”, accused Sheeran and his co-writers of copying portions of his 2015 song “Oh Why” – either consciously or subconsciously. During the 11-day trial held in London in March, Sheeran and his co-writers testified that none of them were aware of the song “Oh Why” prior to composing “Shape of You”. Rather, as Sheeran explained “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, and there’s only 12 notes that are available.”
As a highly successful and prolific pop artist, Sheeran has paid to settle similar cases of accused copyright infringement in the past. However, Sheeran declined to take this route in the present case, instead using it as an opportunity to contest the claim all the way through court proceedings in protest of what he characterizes as “…a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there’s no basis for the claim.” While copyright protection is important to protect injured parties in the case of actual copying, Sheeran lamented that claims filed primarily for the purpose of collecting a settlement fee are harmful to musical artists and detract from, rather than promote, creative work.
*The claim against Sheeran was based primarily on similarities between the phrase “Oh I, oh I, oh I…” used in “Shape of You” and the phrase “Oh why, oh why, oh why…” in Chokri’s earlier song. Curious? Listen below and form your own opinion:
Shape of You: https://youtu.be/JGwWNGJdvx8
Oh Why: https://youtu.be/a3VDY6ttikM