Ed Sheeran beat a lawsuit in the UK over alleged infringement of his single Shape of you.
The case was brought against Sheeran by a British artist called Sami Chokri (aka Sami Switch), who claimed that Sheeeran ripped off his song Oh why, which was published in 2015.
The verdict was returned in favor of Sheeran in a British High Court on Wednesday April 6.
shape of you was written by Sheeran, Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac. It was released in 2017.
Chokri and songwriter Ross O’Donoghue launched the legal battle four years ago, and it went to trial in London last month.
Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran and his collaborators had “neither deliberately nor unknowingly copied” Chokri’s song.
Zacaroli also referred to the “similarities between the one-bar phrase” in the two songs as “only a starting point for possible infringement”.
He added: “The use of the first four notes of the rising minor pentatonic scale for the melody is so short, simple, banal and obvious in the context of the rest of the song that it is not believable that Sheeran was inspired other songs to accompany it.
He concluded that Sheeran “didn’t hear” Chokri’s song, in response to the claim that he had heard it before writing his own song.
In a video statement posted to Instagram following the decision, Sheeran notes that while the defendants are “pleased with the outcome”, they “feel such claims are all too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than a lawsuit, even if there is no basis for the claim”.
“There are only a limited number of notes and very few chords used in pop music. A coincidence is inevitable if 60,000 songs are released every day on Spotify.
He added: “It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry. There are only a limited number of notes and very few chords used in pop music. A coincidence is inevitable if 60,000 songs are released every day on Spotify.
Copyright infringement lawsuits have become increasingly common in the music industry in recent years.
Last month, Dua Lipa was sued for alleged copyright infringement over her hit single Levitation.
Other high-profile cases came in August 2020, when Kendrick Lamar was sued for copyright infringement by a musician called Terrance Hayes, over Lamar’s hit single. Loyaltyreleased in 2017 and taken from his fourth album, Slim.
That same month, a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Lizzo (aka Melissa Jefferson) by three songwriters — Justin and Jeremiah Raisen and Justin ‘Yves’ Rothman — was dismissed by a California judge.
Sheeran himself has already been sued for alleged copyright infringement on different occasions, for his other hits Photograph (in 2016) and Thinking out loud (in 2018).
You can read Sheeran’s full statement below:
Hey guys, me Johnny and Steve have made a joint statement which will be released to the press on the outcome of this case, but I wanted to do a little video to talk about it a bit because I couldn’t quite say what let it be while it lasts.
While we’re obviously happy with the outcome, I feel that claims like this are all too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than take it to court, even if there is no basis for the claim.
It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry. There are only a limited number of notes and very few chords used in pop music. A coincidence is inevitable if 60,000 songs are released every day on Spotify.
That’s 22 million songs per year and there are only 12 notes available. I don’t want to take away from the pain and hurt suffered on both sides of this case, but I just want to say that I am not an entity. I am not a company. I am a human being. I am a father, I am a husband. I am a son.
Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience and I hope that with this decision it means that in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. It really has to end. Me, Johnny and Steve are very grateful for all the support sent to us by our fellow songwriters over the past few weeks. I hope we can all start writing songs again rather than having to prove we can write them. Thank you.
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