Ed Sheeran plagiarism trial: the musician denies that he copied the chorus of his famous song ‘Shape of You’

Eugenio D’Ors already said it: “Everything that is not tradition is plagiarism”. And a songwriter and singer like the British Ed Sheeran (Halifax, 31 years old), that has steeped itself in the traditions of pop, rock and rhythm & blues to produce one after another multi-million dollar hits, he is liable to be constantly accused of plagiarism. Because no one creates from nothing. From the same chord progression, the same rhythm and the same pentatonic scale, unique works of art have emerged. The key is to know when the plagiarism has been unintentional, when it has been done expressly and thus recognized, and when someone else’s idea has been blatantly stolen. Composers Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue accuse Sheeran of the latter, convinced that the chorus of their song oh why was consciously used by Sheeran in his theme Shape of You.

Released in 2017, it was the best-selling song that year and remains the most streamed song in Spotify history to date, with more than 3 billion streams. “I have always tried to be completely fair when giving credit to anyone who has contributed to any of my songs,” Sheeran said at the opening hearing of the copyright trial taking place at the High Court in London. “I usually refer to other works when I compose, as other authors do. And if there is such a reference, I always notify my team so that they obtain the corresponding assignment or license”.

In fact, Sheeran, who has stopped charging more than 24 million euros for the rights to shape of you since Chokri and O’Donghue filed their lawsuit in 2018, he had no qualms about admitting that he had incorporated part of the chords and rhythm of the song into the song No Scrubs, of the TLC group, “to add a more rhythm & blues”. The singer, however, has denied at all times that he knew the work of the plaintiffs or had previously heard the song. oh why when he composed Shape of You. Lawyer for the prosecution, Andrew Sutcliffe, with a reputation for ruthless efficiency in the courtroom, has accused Sheeran of having previously listened to the subject matter on SBTV in YouTube, and that I already knew about his work through mutual friends. While he has no problem recognizing the contributions of famous stars such as Rihanna, Jay-Z or Coldplay, the lawyer has assured, the same is not the case with the work of other minor artists: “He borrows ideas and introduces them into his songs. Sometimes he recognizes it, but other times he doesn’t,” Sutcliffe accused.

In the second session of the trial, during this Tuesday, Sheeran has come to hum the Feeling Good, by Nina Simone, and No Diggity, by Blackstreet, to try to demonstrate that if the pentatonic scale is used in the same key, melodies with very similar intersection points emerge.

Chokry and O’Donoghue assure that their chorus “Oh why, oh why, oh why” is reproduced as is in the “Oh I…, oh I…, oh I…” of shape of you Sheeran’s. “It was a phrase that you already had in your head after hearing the chorus of Sam’s song, right?” Sutcliffe insisted, after reproducing Sheeran and his musicians’ conversations in the room during the recording sessions of your success. In one of them, the singer insists on changing the chorus because “it’s too close.” “I meant rather that it was very similar to the melody of No Diggityfrom Blackstreet,” Sheeran replied.

It is not the first time that the singer has to resolve in court, or with out-of-court agreements, accusations of alleged plagiarism. Songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington netted $5 million and 35% of the gross for Sheeran’s song photograph, which sounded very similar to Amazing that both artists had written for Matt Cardle to play on the American television game show X Factor.

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Ed Sheeran plagiarism trial: the musician denies that he copied the chorus of his famous song ‘Shape of You’

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