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Ed Sheeran responds to court ruling in plagiarism case: “Shape of You is original. We did not copy the defendants’ song”

Ed Sheeran
(Image credit: Joe Maher/Disasters Emergency Committee/Getty Images for Livewire Pictures Ltd)

Ed Sheeran has responded to a court judgement this morning that he “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied another artist’s song in his mega-hit Shape Of You.

The plagiarism case was brought by Sami Chokri and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue, who claimed that Sheeran and his co-writers Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid lifted the “Oh I” hook in Shape Of You’s chorus from Chokri’s 2015 song Oh Why, released under his Sami Switch moniker.

Sheeran had already recognised the writers of TLC’s hit No Scrubs as co-writers of Shape Of You, but always strenuously denied that he had copied Chokri, noting in court that his song’s hook employs a well-worn minor pentatonic pattern that’s been used countless times in the past.

Responding to the court judgement, Sheeran and his co-writers have issued a statement, saying: “We are grateful that Mr Justice Zacaroli has delivered a clear and considered judgement which supports the position we have argued from the outset. Shape of You is original. We did not copy the defendants’ song.

“We respect the music of those who’ve come before us and have inspired us along the way, whoever they are. We have always sought to clear or to acknowledge our influences and collaborators. It doesn’t matter how successful something appears to be, we still respect it.

“It is so painful to hear someone publicly, and aggressively challenge your integrity.

“It is so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you have done something that you haven’t done, and would never do.”

“We are very grateful for all the messages of love, hope and support we received throughout the course of this case from songwriters everywhere. Thank you also to our publishers, who stood shoulder to shoulder with us at every step of the way. We are privileged to do what we do, and we know that. We want to live in a world where we are free to do what we do, openly and honourably. 

“Sheeran and his co-writers also noted that, while they believe that there “should be due process for legitimate and warranted copyright protection,” that’s not the same as “a culture where unwarranted claims are easily brought,” adding that “this is not constructive or conducive to a culture of creativity.”

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology.