LONDON – Ed Sheeran and his songwriting partners have been awarded more than £ 900,000 ($ 1.1 million) in legal costs following their victory in a high-profile copyright lawsuit over his global hit “Shape of You” from 2017.
In April, Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran and his “Shape of You” co-authors, Steven McCutcheon and Johnny McDaid, did not “knowingly or unknowingly” violate a 2015 song called “Oh Why” by another British artist named Sami Chokri . , acting as Sami Switch.
The ruling came nearly four years after Chokri and his producer Ross O’Donoghue first accused Sheeran and his collaborators of copying an important part of their song and incorporating it into “Shape of You,” which spent 12 weeks on top of Hot 100.
Chokri and O’Donoghue claimed that the “Oh I” hook in “Shape of You” was “strikingly similar” to the “Oh Why” renunciation of their own composition. The trio dismissed the allegations and initiated a lawsuit in May 2018, asking the UK Supreme Court to declare that they had not infringed any copyright.
The case culminated in an 11-day trial in London in March and April, in which Sheeran repeatedly took a stand, accusing him of being a “magpie” who usually borrows ideas from other songwriters.
Following the High Court judgment of 6 April, lawyers acting on behalf of Chokri and O’Donoghue argued that the plaintiffs (Sheeran, McCutcheon, McDaid) should be deprived of all their costs because of their “conduct … both before and during the case.”
Specifically, Chokri and O’Donoghue’s lawyers claim that Sheeran’s legal team failed to engage in pre-action correspondence and failed to disclose voice notes and project files regarding how “Shape of You” was written, which should ultimately prove to be the key to the case. Defendants also said Sheeran’s team had ‘demonstrated’ awkwardness and opacity ‘to strengthen [their] conviction that the violation had taken place. “
The judge did not accept these allegations and ruled that Sheeran and his co-authors were entitled to an “interim payment” of £ 916,200 to be paid by Chokri and O’Donoghue. A detailed assessment of the costs due will now be made by another chief judge, who could decide to reject part of the applicants’ costs and reduce the total payment due.