British singer Ed Sheeran says baseless copyright claims are damaging the music industry after he won a case at the High Court in London over whether a refrain in his 2017 mega hit “Shape Of You” had been lifted from another artist.
Sheeran had been involved in a legal battle with grime artist Sami Chokri, who performs as Sami Switch, and music producer Ross O’Donoghue, who had argued the hook from “Shape of You” had been copied from their 2015 song “Oh Why”.
“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 to Instagram this week.
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“It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”
“Shape Of You” became the best-selling digital song worldwide in 2017 and has received more than 5.6 billion views on YouTube.
The judge, Antony Zacaroli, concluded there was no evidence that Sheeran had thought of writing the hit before October 2016.
“While there are similarities between the OW (Oh Why) Hook and the OI (Oh I) Phrase, there are also significant differences,” the judge concluded.
“I am satisfied that Mr Sheeran did not subconsciously copy Oh Why in creating Shape.”
Sheeran had faced lengthy questioning about his work during last month’s trial, with accusations from the lawyer for Chokri and O’Donoghue that he simply altered other artists’ music and words to pass their work off as his own.
The singer said he always credited other artists and told the court he had never heard the “Oh Why” song he was accused of ripping off.
“There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music, coincidence is bound to happen,” Sheeran said on Wednesday.
“I just want to say: I’m not an entity, I’m not a corporation, I’m a human being and a father and a husband and a son. Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience and I hope that this ruling means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided.”
Listen to both tracks here: