Ed Sheeran said he and his Shape Of You co-writers went to court to “stand up for what we thought was right” when he spoke for the first time after hearing a High Court copyright battle over the song had won.
Snow Patrol singer John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon have faced accusations that they stole Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue’s 2015 track Oh Why.
But a judge concluded on Wednesday that Sheeran “neither intentionally nor unknowingly” copied a line from Oh Why when writing his No. 1 hit.
After his victory, Sheeran told the BBC’s Newsnight that the case was about “honesty” and not about money.
He said he was “happy it’s over, I’m glad we can move on and start writing songs again” but that the episode made him “sad” and changed his perspective on songwriting.
The Suffolk singer-songwriter, 31, also revealed he films all his songwriting sessions to protect himself from future claims.
Multi-instrumentalist McDaid, seated next to him, spoke about the toll the case had taken on her mental health.
He said: “The last year has been really tough and it’s been consuming. The cost to our sanity and creativity has been truly tangible.”
Sheeran and his co-authors originally filed a court case in May 2018, asking the Supreme Court to declare that they did not infringe Chokri and O’Donoghue’s copyright.
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Two months later, Chokri — a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch — and O’Donoghue introduced their own lawsuit seeking “copyright infringement, damages and profit settlement related to the alleged infringement.”
The pair claimed an “Oh I” hook on “Shape Of You” was “strikingly similar” to an “Oh why” chorus on their own track.
All three of Shape Of You’s co-writers denied allegations of copying and said they could not recall listening to Oh Why before the lawsuit.
In a preview of the full interview, scheduled to air April 8 on Newsnight, Sheeran referenced a previous claim he believes was made about his song Photograph in the US in 2017, explaining that he now has all of his filming songwriting sessions.
The singer said he “personally regrets” choosing Photograph and said he hasn’t played the song for a long time, explaining, “I just stopped playing it. I felt weird about it, I felt kind of dirty.”
Sheeran added, “Now I just film everything, everything is on film. We had claims to the songs and we’re saying, well, here’s the footage and you’re going to watch it. You’ll see there’s nothing.”
Speaking about his songwriting, he added, “There’s that George Harrison point where he said he’s afraid to touch the piano because he might be touching someone else’s note. You can definitely feel that in the studio.
“Personally, I think the best feeling in the world is the euphoria of the first idea of writing a great song.
“Now that feeling has turned into ‘Oh wait, let’s step back for a moment.’ You are in the moment and questioning yourself.”
During last month’s 11-day trial at the Rolls Building in London, Sheeran denied he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without credit, insisting he’s “always tried to be absolutely fair” when acknowledging people who contributed to his albums.
Chokri told the trial he felt “robbed” by Sheeran and was “shocked” when he first heard Shape Of You on the radio.
Oh Why co-writers’ attorney Andrew Sutcliffe QC claims Sheeran is an artist who “alters” words and music owned by others to “pass as original”.
Ian Mill QC, representing Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon, said the allegations against them were “impossible to hold”, with evidence suggesting Shape Of You was an “independent creation”.
Sheeran was present throughout the trial, frequently breaking out in song and humming scales and tunes as he took the witness stand.
Watch the full interview on Newsnight on Friday 8 April at 10.30pm on BBC Two.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/ed-sheeran-high-court-battle-was-about-standing-up-for-what-was-right-41532852.html Ed Sheeran: The High Court fight was about ‘standing up for what was right’