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Ed Sheeran awarded €1 million damages in 'Shape of You' copyright battle

Ed Sheeran poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2022 in London Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.
Ed Sheeran poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2022 in London Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Copyright Joel C Ryan/Invision
Copyright Joel C Ryan/Invision
By Tim GallagherEuronews with AFP
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Sheeran was accused by Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue of being partly inspired by their title "Oh Why" for his biggest hit.


British pop star Ed Sheeran has been awarded €1 million from a court battle over his hit song "Shape of You". 

In 2018 31-year-old Sheeran was sued for plagiarism by Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue, who perform as Sami Switch.

They accused him of being partly inspired by their track "Oh Why" for the melody of his smash hit 'Shape Of You', the best-selling song in the world in 2017.

The singer said the 11-day trial which took place in March was emblematic of "abusive practices" in the music industry.

What was the verdict in Ed Sheeran's case?

A UK High Court judge ruled in March that Sheeran had not plagiarised from Chokri and O'Donoghue's song "Oh Why".

In a supplementary judgement delivered June 21, Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that the unsuccessful plaintiffs should pay court costs of £916,200 (€1,065,085 at today's conversation rate).

Despite his victory before the highest court in the land, the case has been an ordeal for all parties involved. 

What happened in Ed Sheeran's court battle?

Both songs were played in the courtroom presided over by Judge Antony Zacaroli.

Andrew Sutcliffe, acting on behalf of Sami Switch, said, "the similarity" between certain passages "is striking", they are "almost identical".

"Mr. Sheeran is undoubtedly very talented, he is a genius. But he is also a magpie," he added. "He borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he acknowledges it, sometimes he doesn't," he continued: "It depends on who you are and if he thinks he can do it with impunity."

The lawyer pointed out that his clients are "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 denied these accusations.

They had applied in May 2018 to the High Court for it to recognise that there had been no copyright infringement.

Ed Sheeran leaves from the Rolls Building of the High Court in London, on March 7, 2022 after attending the second day of a copyright trialADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

Two months later, in July, Chokri and O'Donoghue, in turn, began legal proceedings against them.

A 'concerted plan'

On March 15, the trial heard that huge efforts were made by Chokri's former management company to ensure the Sami Switch track made its way into Sheeran’s peripheral vision, and thus making it more likely that the award-winning singer-songwriter would have had the song in his ear.

Written evidence submitted by managing director of Artists and Company (A&C), David May, alleged that the company had “a concerted plan to target Ed Sheeran in the hope of engaging his interest in Sami’s work” at the time ‘Oh Why’ was being promoted.

Evan Agostini/AP
Art and Life with Ed Sheeran and his waxwork at Madame Tussauds in New York, 2015Evan Agostini/AP

The payment of royalties linked to 'Shape Of You', estimated at 24 million euros was suspended by the collective management organisation PRS. This will likely be unfrozen now. 

In 2017, Ed Sheeran was also the best-selling artist 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'.

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