The High Court in London has ruled: British pop star Ed Sheeran did not commit plagiarism for his mega hit Shape of Youone of the most listened to titles in the world since its release in early 2017 with 3 billion streams on Spotify and almost 6 billion views on YouTube.
On Wednesday, the court of first instance dismissed two songwriters who had seized it on this subject. Ed Sheeran, 31, did not copy, “neither deliberately nor unconsciously“, part of the melody of the song oh why by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue for his planetary hit, underlined judge Antony Zacaroli.
The judge admitted “obvious similarities” between the two songs, with a melody notably taken from the minor pentatonic scale as “countless songs from pop, rock, folk and blues“. But he pointed out “important differences“, the two melodic phrases playing”very different roles in their respective songs“.
saying to themselves “happy” of the outcome of the trial, the star regretted on Instagram that “requests like this are becoming too common”, with the objective of obtaining a financial agreement even if they are “unfounded”. “It’s really damaging for the musical composition”, he added, adding that “coincidences inevitably happen” given the limited number of notes available for the huge amount of songs produced around the world.
Ed Sheeran appeared in person at the High Court in London on the first day of the trial, March 4, during which the two tracks were played – along with, by mistake, part of an unreleased track from the pop sensation .
For Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Andrew Sutcliffe, “the similarity“between certain passages was”striking“, they are “almost identical“.”Mr. Sheeran is undoubtedly very talented, he is a genius. But it’s also a magpie“, he added in reference to the bird which is sometimes accused of being a thief.
“He borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he recognizes it, sometimes he doesn’t“, he had accused: that “depends on who you are and if he thinks he can do it with impunity“. The lawyer had pointed out that his clients were “very talented songwriters, who deserve the same respect as any other artist and recognition when it is due“.
Ed Sheeran and his co-authors Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid had denied these accusations. They had applied in May 2018 to the High Court for it to recognize that there had been no copyright infringement. Two months later, in July, Chokri and O’Donoghue in turn began legal proceedings against them.
The payment of royalties related to Shape Of Youestimated at 20 million pounds sterling (24 million euros at the current rate) according to the newspaper The Telegraph, suspended by the collective management organization PRS. In 2017, Ed Sheeran was also the artist who sold the most albums in the world, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), with his third album divide which includes the single Shape Of You.
This is not the first time the artist has been sued for plagiarism. In the United States, the heirs of soul legend Marvin Gaye have accused him of being a little too inspired by Let’s Get It On for his mega hit Thinking Out Loud.
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Ed Sheeran is not guilty of plagiarism for “Shape of You”, concludes the British justice
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