A London High Court judge ruled on Wednesday that British musician Ed Sheeran did not plagiarize grime artist Sami Chokri’s song “Oh Why” in writing his 2017 hit “Shape of You,” according to BBC News.
Chokri, who performs under the pseudonym Sami Switch, insisted that the “Oh I” hook in Sheeran’s song was “strikingly similar” to a refrain in “Oh Why.” However, Justice Zacaroli did not find sufficient evidence that Sheeran and his co-writers – Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon – either purposefully or subconsciously mimicked Chokri’s song.
Sheeran took to social media after the verdict was announced, arguing that such “baseless” claims surface too frequently in the industry.
“Whilst 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 is no basis for the claim,” Sheeran said in a video posted on Twitter. “It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”
During the 11-day trial, Sheeran refuted accusations that he “borrows” ideas from songwriters who are not famous without giving them credit. Instead, the singer said he makes a point of acknowledging anyone who contributes to his music. He also explained there are some 60,000 songs released on Spotify each day, which amounts to 22 million songs a year. Given that there are only a limited number of notes and chords to choose from in pop music, “coincidence is bound to happen.”
Sheeran, McDaid, and Mac released a statement in which they said the price of such a court battle is greater than any monetary expense. The trio expressed how the resulting emotional stress stymies their creativity and takes away from the time that they might otherwise be using to write new music.
“It is so painful to hear someone publicly and aggressively challenge your integrity,” they said in the statement. “It is so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you have done something that you haven’t done, and would never do.”