Ed Sheeran wins Shape of You copyright case, slams ‘harmful’ lawsuits

Grammy-winning songwriter Ed Sheeran has won a UK copyright battle over his 2017 hit shape of you Wednesday, then criticized what he described as a “culture” of baseless lawsuits designed to extract money from artists who want to avoid the costs of a trial.

The British pop star and his co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, had denied claims the song copied part of the 2015 one. Oh why by Sami Chokri, who performs as Sami Switch.

“While we are obviously happy with the result, I feel that claims like this are far too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than to take it to court, even though there is no basis for that claim,” Sheeran said in a video posted to Twitter. “It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”

Andrew Sutcliffe, the lawyer for the co-authors of Oh why, argued that there was an “unmistakable resemblance between the works”. He claimed that Sheeran had Oh why in his head “consciously or unconsciously” when shape of you was written in 2016.

The plaintiffs alleged that the “Oh I, Oh I, Oh I” chorus of the chorus of shape of you was “strikingly similar” to the “Oh why, Oh why, Oh why” line in their track.

During the 11-day trial, Sheeran denied allegations that he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgment and said he has always been fair in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

In Wednesday’s decision, High Court Judge Antony Zacaroli found that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor unknowingly” copied a sentence from Oh why while writing his hit.

Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon said in a statement that the cost of the case was more than financial. The stress of going to trial also hurts creativity, means less time to make music and has an emotional impact, they said.

“It’s so painful to hear someone publicly and aggressively challenge your integrity,” the trio said. “It’s so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you did something you didn’t do and never would.”

shape of you was the UK’s best-selling song of 2017.