World-famous British singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran won a U.K. High Court copyright lawsuit over his 2017 hit song Shape of You.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled Sheeran, 31, had not plagiarized the work of another British performer, Sami Chokri, who accused Sheeran of stealing the melody from his 2015 song Oh Why.
Chokri, who performs under the name Sami Switch, claimed the “Oh, I” melodic hook in Sheeran’s Shape of You was “strikingly similar” to the “Oh, why” portion of his own song.
Shape of You was the U.K.’s best-selling song of 2017 and is Spotify’s most-streamed song ever.
The British pop star and his co-writers, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, denied the allegations from Chokri.
After an 11-day trial, High Court Judge Antony Zacaroli concluded that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase from Oh, Why when writing his smash hit.
Since the lawsuit’s ruling, Sheeran has been vocal about the case, calling the allegations “really damaging to the songwriting industry.”
“While we are obviously happy with the results, claims like this have become way too common now,” Sheeran said.
The singer has previously won four Grammy awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album for the 2017 release of ÷ and Song of the Year for Thinking Out Loud, off the album ×.
Sheeran also argued that this has “become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there’s no base of the claim.”
“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,” he said. “That’s 22 million songs a year, and there’s only 12 notes that are available.”
During the trial, Sheeran denied allegations that he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgement and said he has always been fair in crediting people who contribute to his albums.
According to the BBC, while on the witness stand, the star was often abrupt as he explained how he shared royalties with writers who inspired him. Even on Shape of You, he protested, some of the profits went to the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs.
During the trial, Sheeran also sang Nina Simone’s Feeling Good and Blackstreet’s No Diggity in an attempt to prove the melody he was accused of stealing was commonly used in pop music.
“It is so painful to hear someone publicly and aggressively challenge your integrity,” the three songwriters said in a statement. “It is so painful to have to defend yourself against accusations that you have done something that you haven’t done, and would never do.”
“I don’t want to take anything away from the pain and hurt suffered from both sides of this case, but I just want to say I’m not an entity,” Sheeran argued in his post to social media. “I’m not a corporation. I’m a human being, I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a son.”
“Lawsuits are not a pleasant experience, and I hope that this ruling, it means in the future, baseless claims like this can be avoided,” he said.
“Hopefully we can all get back to writing songs, rather than having to prove that we can write them.”
— With files from The Associated Press