Ed Sheeran facing $5.7 million copyright battle over claims he ‘ripped off’ music

Ed Sheeran has been accused of “ripping off” music from other artists to make his hit song Shape of You.

The pop star is now at the centre of a major legal battle, appearing in court today with a large entourage to face allegations from songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, reports The Sun.

The artists claim the chorus of Shape of You, “oh I oh I oh I”, was copied from their chorus, “oh why oh why oh why”.

The claims were first made on social media. Sheeran and his co-writers for the song issued legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to confirm that they had not infringed Chokri and O’Donoghue’s copyright.

But just two months later, Chokri and O’Donoghue issued their own claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement”.

The battle has now come to the High Court.

Chokri and O’Donoghue’s lawyer Andrew Sutcliffe told the courts Sheeran was “undeniably talented”.

“He is a genius. But he is also a magpie. He borrows ideas and throws them into songs.

“Sometimes he acknowledges this. And sometimes he doesn’t.”

Sheeran appeared upset by this and was seen writing a note which was passed to his legal team.

Sutcliffe pointed out that while Sheeran was well-known and had won “many awards”, his opponents were not.

“If they were, this would have been treated very differently.”

Royalties on Sheeran’s best-selling single were frozen after the claims were first made, meaning he has likely missed out on millions since the ruling in 2018.

The current court hearing will last for three weeks, with Sheeran set to give evidence over the next couple of days.

It’s expected that the parties involved will “incur costs in the region of £3 million (NZ$5.7m) between them on this dispute”, according to a ruling from Judge Francesca Kaye in 2020.

Sheeran previously settled a copyright infringement claim against him in the US in 2017.

Songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington claimed his song Photograph had a similar structure to their song Amazing.

The case was settled for more than £4m (NZ$7.7m), according to court documents released.

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald and has been re-published here with permission and edits.

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