Ed Sheeran and Shape of You co-writers awarded £900,000 in legal fees after copyright win

Ed Sheeran and his “Shape of You” co-writers have been awarded over £900,000 in legal costs after winning their High Court copyright trial earlier this year.

The British singer-songwriter had been accused of copying parts of his 2017 smash single from Sami Chokri’s 2015 track “Oh Why” – co-written by Ross O’Donoghue.

Sheeran, along with co-writer John McDaid (of Snow Patrol) and producer Steven McCutcheon, launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare they had not plagiarised Chokri and O’Donoghue’s work.

In April this year, Mr Justice Zacaroli cleared the singer of plagiarism after an 11-day trial at the High Court, noting that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied a phrase in the song.

Following the ruling, lawyers for Chokri and O’Donoghue argued that Mr Sheeran and the other claimants should pay their own legal costs, claiming they had failed to provide documents and demonstrated “awkwardness and opacity”.

However, in his ruling on Tuesday (21 June), Mr Justice Zacaroli ordered Chokri and O’Donoghue to pay the legal costs of the trial, ordering an interim payment of £916,200.

“I consider it is appropriate that the claimants’ success is reflected in an order that their costs are paid by the defendants, without reduction save for that which is made as part of the process of detailed assessment,” Mr Justice Zacaroli said Tuesday.

The judge dismissed arguments that the defendants would have changed their approach to the case if some documents and explanations about how “Shape Of You” was written had been provided earlier.

“Instead,” Mr Justice Zacaroli noted, “they not only maintained their attack on Mr Sheeran but broadened it by asserting that he was a ‘magpie’ who habitually misappropriated song ideas from other writers.”

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A further hearing is expected to assess and finalise the sums.

During the 11-day trial in central London, Sheeran denied he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledgement and insisted he “always tried to be completely fair” in crediting people who contribute to his albums.

In a video statement following his ruling, Sheeran said: “I hope with this ruling, it means in the future baseless claims like this can be avoided. This really does have to end.

“Me, Johnny and Steve are very grateful for all the support sent to us by fellow songwriters over the last few weeks. Hopefully we can all get back to writing songs, rather than having to prove that we can write them.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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