Musicians Sami Shoukry and Ross O’Donoghue have accused Sheeran of borrowing parts of the melody from their song “Oh Why,” released two years ago. Her attorney, Andrew Sutcliffe, said in court that Sheeran was undoubtedly “extremely talented, he’s a genius.” But sometimes he’s also “magpie” thieves: he borrows other people’s ideas for his songs and denies them when he thinks “he can do it with impunity.”
Sheeran and two of his co-authors, Stephen McCutchen and John McDaid, denied the allegations. During the trial, Sheeran sang and composed, among other things, to refute the allegations. To illustrate how common the “Shape of You” sound in question is, he sang songs including Nina Simone’s classic Feeling Good and Blackstreet’s 90s R&B hit No Diggity.
Sheeran co-wrote “Shape of You” with McDaid and McCutcheon, and the song, released in 2017, is his biggest hit to date. With over three billion views, it is the most streamed song on Spotify. According to the BBC, Sheeran and fellow writers earn the equivalent of six million euros a year on the song. A tenth of that was frozen during litigation. Sheeran asked the court to clarify the allegations before filing the lawsuit.
Sheeran was relieved by the decision. He addressed his fans in a short video on Instagram. “I hope that with this ruling, such baseless allegations can be avoided in the future,” he said. “There are only a certain number of tones and very few chords used in popular music, and coincidences are bound to happen when 60,000 songs are released on Spotify each day.”
Sheeran also explained that the allegations affected him personally. Sheeran continued, “I am not a legal entity or a company, I am a human being, I am a father, a husband and a son.” Litigation is not a pleasant affair. In a written statement with his co-authors, Sheeran wrote, “We do not make music or play parties while we are engaged in litigation.”
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