Speed Reads

in the clear

Ed Sheeran didn't plagiarize 'Shape of You,' judge rules

​​Ed Sheeran has scored a big victory in his "Shape of You" copyright case. 

A judge in London has ruled Sheeran didn't plagiarize the song "Oh Why" for his Grammy-winning hit "Shape of You," The New York Times reports

Songwriter Sami Chokri accused Sheeran of copying from the 2015 song for his chart-topping track released in 2017. But after a trial lasting nearly two weeks, Judge Antony Zacaroli concluded Sheeran "neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied" the song. The judge said that while there are "similarities between the one-bar phrase" in the two songs, "such similarities are only a starting point for a possible infringement," Variety reports. 

The judge also found that "as a matter of fact," Sheeran "had not heard" the 2015 song and there's only "speculative" evidence that he did.

The ruling capped off a legal battle over "Shape of You" going back to 2018. It also comes amid a number of ongoing cases against songwriters accused of copying hit songs. Taylor Swift is set to face a trial over claims she copied lyrics from "Playas Gon' Play" for "Shake it Off," as both songs feature variations of the phrases "players gonna play" and "haters gonna hate." Dua Lipa is also being sued for allegedly stealing from an Artikal Sound System song for her hit "Levitating."

In a video shared on Twitter, Sheeran said he's "obviously happy" with Wednesday's ruling but called for an end to "baseless" lawsuits against songwriters. 

"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 basis for the claim," Sheeran said. "It's really damaging to the songwriting industry."

Sheeran added, "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."