Ed Sheeran has appeared in the UK high court to defend himself against accusations of plagiarism regarding his 2017 hit single, ‘Shape Of You’.
Sheeran is accused of copying sections of the 2015 song, ‘Oh Why’, performed by London musician, Sami Switch. ‘Oh Why’ was written by Switch (real name Sami Chokri) and Ross O’Donoghue.
The three-week trial commenced last Friday, 4th March. ITV reports that, after playing the relevant sections from ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Oh Why’, Chokri and O’Donoghue’s lawyer, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, remarked “The similarity between the two hooks is striking and immediately apparent.”
He continued, “They sound almost identical. They are such that an ordinary, reasonable, experienced listener might think that perhaps one had come from the other.”
On Monday, 7th March, Sheeran denied Sutcliffe’s claim he had knowingly borrowed ideas from ‘Oh Why’. “I have always tried to be completely fair in crediting anyone who makes any contribution to any song I write,” Sheeran said, per The Guardian. “I do refer to other works on occasion when I write, as do many songwriters. If there is a reference to another work, I notify my team so that steps can be taken to obtain clearance.
“I have been as scrupulous as I possibly can and have even given credits to people who I believe may have been no more than a mere influence for a songwriting element. This is because I want to treat other songwriters fairly.”
As The Guardian notes, Kandi Burruss, Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs and Tameka Cottle were all given co-writing credits on ‘Shape of You’ due to the song resembling TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ (written by Burruss, Briggs and Cottle).
Chokri and O’Donoghue started pursuing legal action against Sheeran in 2018. As a result, UK music licensing body, PRS for Music, has prevented Sheeran and his ‘Shape Of You’ co-writers from collecting millions in royalties. The court case is ongoing.