Ed Sheeran is a “magpie” who allegedly “borrows” ideas from other artists to use in his songs, the Supreme Court heard in a copyright lawsuit over his hit “Shape Of You.”
The singer is embroiled in a legal battle with two songwriters who claim the 2017 hit rips off parts of their track Oh Why, with Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue claiming Shape Of You violates “certain lines and phrases” of their composition.
Mr Sheeran and his co-writers of the song, Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid, started court proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare that they had not infringed Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue’s copyright.
Two months later, in July 2018, Mr. Chokri and Mr. O’Donoghue filed their own lawsuit alleging “copyright infringement, damages and profit settlement related to the alleged infringement.”
The trial over the copyright dispute, which is expected to last three weeks, began on Friday in the Rolls Building in central London.
Mr. Sheeran attended the hearing in person, wearing a dark suit and tie.
Mr. Sheeran is undoubtedly very talented, he is a genius. But he’s also a magpie. He borrows ideas and throws them into his songsAndrew Sutcliffe QC
Andrew Sutcliffe QC, for Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue, said the key question in the case is ‘how does Ed Sheeran write his music?’ and whether he ‘invents things while he goes along’ in songwriting sessions.
The attorney said, “Or is the truth of the matter is that his songwriting process is more nuanced and less spontaneous…involves collecting and developing ideas over time that relate to and interpolate with other artists.” Such is the case of the defendants.
“Mr. Sheeran is undoubtedly very talented, he is a genius. But he’s also a magpie.
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“He borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he’ll appreciate it, sometimes he won’t.”
The lawyer said it “depends on who you are and if he thinks he can get away with it”.
Mr Sheeran’s lawyers previously told the High Court that the singer and his co-writers had no recollection of hearing the song Oh Why before the litigation and “vehemently” denied the allegations of copying.
Ian Mill QC, representing Mr Sheeran and his two co-writers, debated whether the case would cover if the three songwriters allegedly unknowingly or knowingly copied the hook of the song Oh Why.
“How can more than one person copy something unconsciously? It’s totally unimaginable,” said Mr Mill.
Mr Mill said a case of “deliberate copying” against Mr Sheeran and his co-authors would require “all three to have known at the time of writing that they were copying Oh Why”.
The High Court also heard that PRS for Music – the industry body that collects and distributes royalties – had suspended payment to Mr Sheeran and his co-writers for performing or broadcasting Shape Of You.
The song was a worldwide hit, becoming the best-selling song of 2017 in the UK and the most-streamed song in Spotify history.
Mr Sutcliffe later acknowledged that Shape Of You’s creators were “very famous and very successful”.
He added, “They’ve had a lot of hits, they’ve set a lot of records and they’ve won a lot of awards.”
But the lawyer said the case isn’t about “how famous the plaintiffs are, it boils down to the defendants not being”.
He added: “They are not Shaggy, Coldplay, Rihanna or Jay-Z, if they were they would have been treated very differently.
He said Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue are “not emerging artists”.
The attorney continued, “They are songwriters and very talented who deserve the same respect as any other artist and credit where credit is due.”
The trial before Mr Justice Zacaroli is continuing with the verdict likely to be postponed to a later date.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/ed-sheeran-a-magpie-who-borrows-ideas-for-his-music-high-court-told-41411852.html Ed Sheeran, a magpie who borrows ideas for his music, said the High Court