Ed Sheeran Is “A Magpie [Who] Borrows Ideas” Argues Prosecution In “Shape Of You” Copyright Trial Opening
Ed Sheeran already gave the writers of TLC’s “No Scrubs” songwriting credit for his 2017 hit “Shape Of You.” And today, The Guardian reports, he appeared in court for the first day of a three-week copyright trial over a dispute with two other musicians who say that “Shape Of You” ripped them off.
Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue have maintained since 2018 that “Shape Of You” infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their 2015 song “Oh Why,” which Chokri says he sent to Sheeran’s in a bid for a collaboration. Sheeran denied the allegations and asked the court to declare that there was no infringement, but music licensing body PRS For Music barred him and his co-writers from collecting an estimated £20M in royalties until the legal battle is resolved.
In court today, Chokri and O’Donoghue’s lawyer Andrew Sutcliffe argued that Sheeran’s writing process involves “the collection and development of ideas over time which reference and interpolate other artists … 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 … depends on who you are and whether he thinks he can get away with it.”
Sheeran’s lawyers told the high court that the singer and his two co-writers have no recollection of having heard the defendants’ song and “vehemently deny” the allegations. “How can more than one person subconsciously copy something? That is completely inconceivable,” said Sheeran’s attorney Ian Mill, adding that a case of “conscious copying” would require “all three to have known at the time of writing that they were copying ‘Oh Why.'”