Ed Sheeran has denied “borrowing” ideas from unknown songwriters without credit.
The musician, 31, is accused of copying parts of his 2017 hit Shape of You by Oh Why, a 2015 song written by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue and performed by Chokri under the alias Sami Switch.
Andrew Sutcliffe QC, the couple’s lawyer, claimed Sheeran treated lesser-known songwriters differently from his famous peers such as Rihanna, Jay-Z and Coldplay, and alleged that the writing process for Shape of You involved collecting of ideas rather than spontaneous composition.
Sheeran denied both suggestions. “I’ve always tried to be completely fair in crediting anyone who makes a contribution to a song I write,” he told the court. “I refer to other works on occasion when I write, as do many songwriters. If there is a reference to another work, I notify my team so that steps can be taken to get permission.
“I was as scrupulous as possible and even gave credit to people who I think may have just been an influence for a songwriting element. It’s because I want to treat other songwriters fairly.
Sheeran once gave the writers of TLC’s 90s hit No Scrubs credit on Shape of You after comparisons were made between the two songs.
Sheeran previously said he wrote Shape of You in 90 minutes. It was not unusual for him, he told the court. “There’s no pre-thought process, I just make things up as I go – and if it sounds good, I keep it.
“I think of them as sort of ‘bottles of excitement’ – if a song works, the excitement pushes it to the point where it’s finished; if not, I’ll give up and move on.
In May 2018, Sheeran and his co-writers John McDaid (of Snow Patrol), Kandi Burruss, Kevin Briggs, Steven McCutcheon and Tameka Cottle asked the high court to declare that they had not infringed copyright of Chokri and O’Donoghue.
The pair filed a counterclaim for copyright infringement, claiming that Shape of You infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their song.
Sheeran, McCutcheon (known as Steve Mac) and McDaid have been barred by music licensing body PRS for Music from collecting around £20 million in royalties from performances or broadcasts of Shape of You.
Lawyers for Sheeran previously told the High Court that the singer and his co-writers had no recollection of hearing the song Oh Why before the legal battle and “vehemently deny” the copying allegations.
On Friday, Sutcliffe claimed that Sheeran “borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he’ll recognize it but sometimes he won’t.”
Sheeran denied this, saying that “if Mr. Sutcliffe had done his research” he would have discovered that he had deleted parts of songs with “many” unknown composers, including a song which sampled an “unknown composer” from Buffy’s score. the vampire slayer.
Sheeran denied Sutcliffe’s claims that he must have known about Chokri because they appeared on YouTube channel SBTV around the same time they had mutual friends, Chokri said he tweeted at Sheeran asking him to listen to his music, and Sheeran allegedly shouted Chokri’s name during a performance.
Sheeran said he receives “hundreds of thousands of tweets every day” and said he doesn’t shout on stage.
Sheeran admitted to settling a previous copyright case regarding his song Photograph on the advice of his lawyers because it was a “nuisance” and “more trouble than it was worth”.
Songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington have sued Sheeran for $20 million for copyright infringement, alleging similarities between Sheeran’s hit and their song Amazing, performed by X Factor winner Matt Cardle.
Sheeran paid the pair $5 million and gave them 35% of his gross publishing revenue — shares they have since returned. He told the high court today that the similarities were coincidental and that he had not copied the song.
He said it was the first time he had faced such a claim and felt “bruised” by the experience.
“Even though I felt I had done nothing wrong, we decided to settle the case because of the money and time it would take to fight it. However, it left me with a very bad hunch afterwards. The decision to settle down was morally bizarre given that we were innocent of the allegations made. It made me feel like I didn’t want to play the song anymore.
The case continues. Sheeran is expected to resume giving evidence tomorrow (March 8).