Singer Ed Sheeran wins ’Shape of You’ copyright dispute
Judge Antony Zacaroli said that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase from British grime track, “Oh Why,” when writing the worldwide smash hit.
“Shape of You,” released in 2017, remains the most-streamed song ever on Spotify, with more than three billion streams.
It won Sheeran, 31, a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. He, along with several others, has a writing credit on the track.
But two other songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, alleged that the song had musical similarities to one they wrote called “Oh Why,” performed under Chokri’s stage-name Sami Switch.
Judge Zacaroli ruled that “there are obvious similarities” between hooks in the two songs, but that there were also “important differences.”
While both hooks drew from the minor pentatonic scale, “there are countless songs in the pop, rock, folk and blues genres where the melody is drawn exclusively” from the same scale, he said.
Zacaroli also said that the two phrases “play very different roles in their respective songs.”
The claimants hook “is the central part of the song” whereas in Sheeran’s hit, it is “something catchy to fill the bar before each repeated phrase ’I’m in love with your body’.”
Sheeran attended court during the 11-day trial, bursting into song and humming musical scales and melodies as he was questioned over how the song was written.
The singer denied he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters and told court he “always tried to be completely fair” in crediting contributors.