A British court has decided that Ed Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” stole another musician’s song for his 2017 hit “The Shape of You.”
The dispute has been going on in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the past month, with Ed Sheeran, co-writer John McDaid, and producer Steve McCutcheon accused of stealing content from a little-known 2015 song called “Oh Why” written by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue.
The song was released in January 2017 and immediately climbed to the top of the iTunes chart in Ireland. The plaintiffs said that a hook from their song ‘The Shape of You’ was stolen without attribution, that they could show Ed Sheeran had heard their song ‘Oh Why’ and took the notes from the song to create his own.
Mr. Justice Zacaroli disagreed, saying in his judgment that the claimants provided “no more than a speculative foundation for Mr. Sheeran having heard “Oh Why” and that “he did not deliberately copy the OI Phrase from the OW Hook.”
This morning, Ed Sheeran published a video on Instagram reacting to the court’s decision:
View this post on Instagram
In it, he explained that:
“There are only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music and coincidences are bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released a day on Spotify, that is 22m songs a year, and there are only 12 notes that are available.”
He went on to hope that “baseless claims like this can be avoided”.
Chokri and O’Donaghue may yet appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal, but there is currently no word from the legal team that they will take this opportunity to appeal potentially very costly. So, Ed Sheeran isn’t entirely out of the woods yet on “The Shape of You,” but he does seem relieved after winning this case.
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