Ed Sheeran won his ‘Shape of You’ copyright case, awarded legal fees

Ed Sheeran has been sued for copyright infringement at least three times. The most recent lawsuit, over “Shape of You,” was brought by musicians Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue who alleged the song copied lines and phrases from one of theirs. Ed already had to add the “No Scrubs” songwriters (shoutout to Real Housewives of Atlanta) to the credits of “Shape of You” due to similarities there. But he did win the other lawsuit and decided he is now going to film his entire recording process to help with future lawsuits.

Now, after Ed winning the most recent case, the judge has ordered that the artists who brought the suit have to pay Ed’s legal fees. They have to make an interim payment of $1.1 million and the total sum could be more. Ouch, that’s gotta sting for those artists.

The two artists who sued Ed Sheeran for copyright infringement over “Shape of You” have been ordered to pay the pop star over $1.1 million in legal fees, Billboard reports.

After Sheeran prevailed in the copyright suit, lawyers for the grime artist Sami Chokri and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue tried to argue that their clients shouldn’t have to cover the legal expenses of Sheeran and his co-defendants — songwriters Steven McCutcheon and Johnny McDaid — due to their “conduct… both before and during the proceedings.” Judge Antony Zacaroli, however, rebuffed those claims and said Sheeran and co. were entitled to an “interim payment” of £916,200 (just over $1.1 million).

Despite today ruling, that total sum for legal expenses could still change. Another judge will oversee and assess the costs and damages due, and could decide to nix some, thus lowering how much Chokri and O’Donoghue owe.

Sheeran won his High Court copyright battle in England over his 2017 single “Shape of You” back in April after a high-profile trial. A judge ruled that Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon did not plagiarized Chokri’s 2015 song “Oh Why.”

In his ruling, the judge concluded that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase from “Oh Why” when writing “Shape of You,” as Sheeran emphasized during the trial.

In a video statement posted to Twitter, Sheeran said, “While we’re obviously happy with the result, I feel like claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court. Even if there’s no base for the claim. It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry. There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify.”

He continued, “I don’t want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered by both sides of this case, but I just want to say that I’m not an entity. I’m not a corporation. I’m a human being. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a son. Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience and I hope with this ruling it means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided.”

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

I’ve already mentioned that Ed isn’t my favorite despite begrudgingly enjoying some of his songs, including “Shape of You.” But am I alone in thinking his statement is way too self-righteous for someone who has been sued for copyright infringement multiple times? Especially considering he already had to give retroactive credit to other (Black, female) songwriters for the same song. Like yes, you won this particular case out of your three copyright infringement cases, but you’ve also already admitted that the song in question wasn’t a wholly original creation. And the list of his identifiers and saying he’s not a corporation is just, ugh. The plaintiffs have lives too and they’re not corporations either. I find the tone of his statement detracts from the accurate points he does make: that there are only so many notes and chords in pop music and coincidences happen. That’s definitely true, but it seems that coincidences keep happening to Ed. Maybe instead of recording his entire writing process that time would be better spent after the process to make sure that any unwitting inspirations have been appropriately credited. Also, it’s interesting opposing counsel cited Ed and his side’s conduct before/during the case. I wonder what they’re referring to.

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13 Responses to “Ed Sheeran won his ‘Shape of You’ copyright case, awarded legal fees”

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  1. Lolo86lf says:

    I always feel ambivalent about Ed’s music. Whenever I listen to his biggest hits I don’t know whether to like them or not. It is so baffling to me the lawyers’ fees being so exorbitant, like 1.1 million dollars! Damn.

    • HufflepuffLizLemon says:

      I’ve been ambivalent towards him since “Don’t.” That song was such a “nice guy” anthem and it made me cringe.

  2. Wiglet Watcher says:

    The music is fine. It’s simple and easy listening. Is it ever enjoyable enough I’ll add it to a playlist or won’t skip over it?
    No. He as a person seems like a prick. The ego and the cozying up to racist royals has done it for me.

    • LEvans says:

      Completely agree! I’m not hankering for his songs but if it playing then fine I’ll listen. He does seem like a jerk. he’s close with the racist royals, perpetual victim Taylor Swift, and steals from Black women without giving proper credit upfront. Seems like a swarmy, unlikeable guy.

    • Wendy says:

      I agree about the comment about his personality IRL – he has also battled it out with his community and neighbours in his small town over building approvals for his sprawling estate. He complains about any development neighbours wanted to do and yet has bought up 4-5 houses and constructed other buildings for his huge compound. Although they said he has done a lot for the community – still seems very entitled.

  3. Laura says:

    I always thought Beyonce should sue him for Perfect because parts of the melody sound the same as her Ave Maria! However I don’t know anything about music so I could be wrong, and also that might be Schubert’s melody lol

  4. BrainFog 💉💉💉😷 says:

    So sick and tied of people going “But I’m a father! I’m a husband!” in a professional context – well honey that’s nice but has absolutely nothing with your legal issues. Not the right time or place. Your private life and your reproductive choices are not relevant to your copyright violation accusations.
    I wonder if people like this feel that having kids makes them more important or more human humans. It does not. It just makes them insufferable.

    • Normades says:

      Hear, hear. I know plenty of stand up childless and single dudes, and plenty of awful married fathers. Has no bearing on you as a person and people who do this are just trying to garner sympathy.

  5. K.T says:

    I’m in this for the creativity and not any particular artist. These lawsuits, especially this one, are toxic for creative artist because the nature of creation is in building, referencing and being influenced by others as well as much as being singular or original. Pay for others work if you use enough of their work, for sure! Yet a majority of these cases have gone so far there is a stranglehold on artists rather than holding ppl accountable. Where there is a hit there is a writ.

    • 100roseshouse says:

      Agree. If anything, having multiple people claim plagiarism for the same song should be a red flag that it’s probably not legit, unless they’ve all sued each other as well. Unless it’s a Frankensong mashup, that just means that multiple songs have similar rifts.
      I love Ed Sheeran, though. I rarely dislike any of his songs, and he was super funny in Yesterday

  6. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    The only song of his I like is “I See Fire” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    Other than that I don’t really pay attention to him or his music 🤷

  7. arhus says:

    He gives me bad vibes. I wonder if the ‘conduct’ has to do with drawing the case out to maximize legal fees

  8. Grace says:

    The thing that happens often is that the more visible an artist is, the more they get hit by ‘copyright’ suits that have no basis and the claimants are just hoping for a payout, like this one – where if the same song hadn’t been making money, no one would have even thought of it. This has increasingly become a problem in the music industry and is one of the big reasons artists still sign to major labels – they have the big money lawyers and know what steps to take during writing and recording to cover your ass.