Ed Sheeran Wins 'Shape of You' Plagiarism Suit as He Calls Legal Battle 'Damaging' to Songwriting

Ed Sheeran was accused of stealing the hook of his hit song "Shape of You"

Ed Sheeran's long legal nightmare is over.

The Grammy-winning singer walked away with a win in his plagiarism lawsuit, in which he was accused of stealing the melody of his hit song "Shape of You."

A judge in London's High Court ruled Wednesday that Sheeran, 31, "neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied" the 2015 Sami Switch song "Oh Why" while writing his 2017 track, according to the BBC.

Sheeran addressed the win in a video statement shared to Instagram, in which he said he was "obviously happy with the result," but warned of the ripple effects the case could have on the songwriting industry.

"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's no base for a claim," he said. "It's really damaging to the songwriting industry. There's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify."

Sheeran, along with his co-writers Steve McCutcheon and Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, has been locked in legal battle since songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue alleged that the "Oh I" hook in "Shape of You" was "strikingly similar" to their song.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Though the judge acknowledged "similarities between the one-bar phrase" in court on Wednesday, he said that "such similarities are only a starting point for a possible infringement" of copyright, and said he found it "a matter of fact" that Sheeran had never heard "Oh Why," according to the BBC.

"I don't want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered from both sides of this case, but I just want to say I'm not an entity, I'm not a corporation. I'm a human being, I'm a father, I'm a husband, I'm a son," Sheeran said in his video. "Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience, and I hope that this ruling, it means that in the future, baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end."

He added: "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."

Over an 11-day trial last month, Sheeran testified that he often shares credit with lesser-known artists, and added the team behind TLC's "No Scrubs" to the writing credits for "Shape of You" after its release.

He also reportedly sang "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone and "No Diggity" by Blackstreet to demonstrate that the melody he was accused of stealing is actually quite commonplace in pop music.

Sheeran, McCutcheon and McDaid — whom the court said receive about $6.5 million each year from "Shape of You" — pre-emptively sued Chokri and O'Donoghue in 2018 in an attempt to clear Sheeran's name after the pair asked the Performing Rights Society to add them as co-writers, a move that froze "Shape of You" royalties, according to the BBC.

"There was a lot of talk throughout this case about cost," the trio said in a statement. "But there is more than just a financial cost. There is a cost on creativity. When we are tangled up in law suits, we are not making music or playing shows."

They added: "There is a cost on our mental health. The stress this causes on all sides is immense. It affects so many aspects of our everyday lives and the lives of our families and friends. We are not corporations. We are not entities. We are human beings."

During the trial, Chokri said he felt "robbed" by an artist he respected, and said he wished the trial had not come to court, according to the BBC.

Sheeran was previously sued over copyright infringement in 2016 and 2018 for his songs "Photograph" and "Thinking Out Loud," respectively. The first suit was settled out of court, while the second is believed to be ongoing.

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