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Ed Sheeran denies that he “borrows” ideas in copyright case

The 'Shape Of You' singer was last week described as a "magpie" who borrows ideas

By Hollie Geraghty

Ed Sheeran looks up in a white t-shirt in a press shot
'Shape of You' is one of six Sheeran tracks in Spotify's 'Billions Club'. (Photo: Atlantic Records)

Ed Sheeran has told the high court that he does not “borrow” ideas from other songwriters, as part of a three-week copyright case.

The singer is facing a dispute with two musicians, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, who allege that Sheeran’s 2017 hit ‘Shape Of You’ plagiarises parts of their 2015 song ‘Oh Why’.

Chokri and O’Donoghue claim that the ‘Oh I’ hook of ‘Shape’ Of You” is “strikingly similar” to their track, which was released under the name Sami Switch.

Sheeran and co-writers Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid were barred by music licensing body PRS for Music from collecting an estimated £20 million in royalties from performances or broadcasts of the track.

On Friday (March 4), barrister Andrew Sutcliffe QC asked how Sheeran wrote his songs and if he “makes things up as he goes along”.

He continued: “Or is his songwriting process in truth more nuanced and less spontaneous … involving the collection and development of ideas over time which reference and interpolate other artists. This is the defendants’ case.

“Mr Sheeran is undoubtedly very talented, he is a genius. But he is also a magpie. He borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he will acknowledge it but sometimes he won’t.”

Today (March 7), Sheeran gave evidence to suggest he had cleared parts of the songs with lesser-known artists, according to BBC.

Sutcliffe told Sheeran: “The evidence is overwhelming that at the time of writing ‘Shape of You’, your songwriting process involved collecting ideas.”

Sheeran replied: “You say it’s overwhelming, I don’t agree with that.”

After the release of ‘Shape Of You’, the singer gave credit to the writers behind TLC’s 1999 hit ‘No Scrubs’ after comparisons were drawn between the two tracks.

Sheeran is not the only singer to be facing a high-profile copyright case, with Dua Lipa currently facing a second lawsuit over her hit single ‘Levitating’.

In the latest case, songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer have accused Lipa of copying their 1979 track ‘Wiggle and Giggle All Night’ and 1980 song ‘Don Diablo’.

Last week, Florida-based reggae band Artikal Sound System filed a case in a Los Angeles Court, claiming that Lipa ripped the track from their 2017 song ‘Live Your Life.’

Lawyers for Brown and Linzer wrote: “In seeking nostalgic inspiration, defendants copied plaintiffs’ creation without attribution.

“The signature melody is the most listened to and recognizable part of the infringing works and plays a crucial role in their popularity.”