Ed Sheeran and Shape of You co-writers awarded £900,000 in legal fees after copyright win

Sheeran won a High Court copyright trial ruling whether ‘Shape of You’ was plagiarised from Sami’ Chokri’s ‘Oh Why’

Ed Sheeran says lawsuits are 'damaging to music industry'

Ed Sheeran and his “Shape of You” co-writers have been awarded over £900,000 in legal costs after winning their High Court copyright trial earlier this year.

The British singer-songwriter had been accused of copying parts of his 2017 smash single from Sami Chokri’s 2015 track “Oh Why” – co-written by Ross O’Donoghue.

Sheeran, along with co-writer John McDaid (of Snow Patrol) and producer Steven McCutcheon, launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare they had not plagiarised Chokri and O’Donoghue’s work.

In April this year, Mr Justice Zacaroli cleared the singer of plagiarism after an 11-day trial at the High Court, noting that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase in the song.

Following the ruling, lawyers for Chokri and O’Donoghue argued that Mr Sheeran and the other claimants should pay their own legal costs, claiming they had failed to provide documents and demonstrated “awkwardness and opacity”.

However, in his ruling on Tuesday (21 June), Mr Justice Zacaroli ordered Chokri and O’Donoghue to pay the legal costs of the trial, ordering an interim payment of £916,200.

“I consider it is appropriate that the claimants’ success is reflected in an order that their costs are paid by the defendants, without reduction save for that which is made as part of the process of detailed assessment,” Mr Justice Zacaroli said Tuesday.

The judge dismissed arguments that the defendants would have changed their approach to the case if some documents and explanations about how “Shape Of You” was written had been provided earlier.

“Instead,” Mr Justice Zacaroli noted, “they not only maintained their attack on Mr Sheeran but broadened it by asserting that he was a ‘magpie’ who habitually misappropriated song ideas from other writers.”

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

A further hearing is expected to assess and finalise the sums.

During the 11-day trial in central London, Sheeran denied he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgement and insisted he “always tried to be completely fair” in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

In a video statement following his ruling, Sheeran said: “I hope with this ruling, it means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end.

“Me, Johnny and Steve are very grateful for all the support sent to us by fellow songwriters over the last few weeks. Hopefully we can all get back to writing songs, rather than having to prove that we can write them.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in