Judge Zakaroli, the judge overseeing the case, said, “Mr. Sheeran neither intentionally nor unconsciously, copied the song “Oh Why,” by British songwriter Sami Shoukry.
Judge Zakaroli added that there was no more than speculative evidence that Mr. Sheeran had heard “Oh why”, dismissing Mr. Shoukry’s claim of copyright infringement.
plagiarism case It was just the latest post by a prominent songwriterBut record industry executives have been watching the case closely, due to its potential to bolster other allegations.
At the heart of the case was a small part of the song “Shape of You”, which topped the charts worldwide and is one of the most streamed songs on Spotify with over three billion plays. In the audio clip, Mr. Sheeran repeatedly sang “Oh, I”, which Mr. Shukri claimed was based on a section ofWhya song from 2015 by the little-known British singer who performs under the name Sami Switch.
Judge Zakaroli’s ruling came after an 11-day trial in London’s High Court in March, which was the subject of news media attention. Mr. Sheeran was in court the entire time, singing from the witness stand as he testified. At one point in the trial, Mr. Sheeran’s legal team accidentally played one of his unreleased songs prompting Mr. Sheeran, shocked, to ask his legal team, “How did you get that?” According to a BBC News report.
The case dates back to May 2018, when Mr Sheeran and his fellow “Shape of You” authors, including Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid, asked the High Court in London to declare that they had not copied Mr. Shoukry’s work. Their claim arose after Mr Shoukry and one of the authors informed the British Performance Rights Association, a body that pays royalties for the song, that they should be registered as songwriters on “Shape of You”. The Society then suspended all payments to Mr. Sheeran and his fellow writers.
Soon after Mr. Sheeran took action, Mr. Shoukry and his co-author filed their lawsuit, accusing Mr. Sheeran of copyright infringement.
During the hearing, Mr. Shoukry’s legal team attempted to portray Mr. Sheeran as a habitual impersonator. Andrew Sutcliffe QC said Mr Sheeran is “without a doubt very talented”. According to a report in The Times of LondonBut he added, “It’s also a magpie. He borrows ideas and throws them into his songs.” Mr. Sutcliffe claimed that Mr. Sheeran sometimes took credit for songwriters he borrowed from.
Mr. Sheeran’s lawyer He told the court That Mr. Shukri’s song received only 12,914 plays on YouTube in the two years following its release, and was played only twice on BBC, meaning few people had a chance to hear it.
But Mr. Shukri, testifying, claimed that he knew Mr. Sheeran personally and that he once met him at a branch of Nando’s Chicken Restaurant. Mr. Shukri said, Mr. Sheeran must have heard the song “through the many access points my team and I shared”, According to The Times of London.
Shortly after the ruling, Mr Sheeran posted a clip on Instagram saying that “claims like this are very common now”. “There were a lot of notes, very few chords used in pop music,” he added. “Coincidences are bound to happen if 60,000 songs are released daily on Spotify.”
Judge Zakaroli wrote in his ruling that while Mr. Shoukry’s shock upon hearing the song “Shape of You” was understandable, given the similarity between the two songs, such coincidences are “not uncommon”. He added that even if Mr. Sheeran was looking for inspiration for the track, Mr. Shoukry’s track was “far from being an obvious source”.
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