British star Ed Sheeran in ‘Shape of You’ copyright dispute

Ed Sheeran (file photo: AP)

“Shape of You”, released in 2017, was a huge hit for Sheeran, 31, and remains the most streamed song on Spotify, with more than three billion streams.

It earned Sheeran a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. He has songwriting credit on the track along with several others.

But two other songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, say Sheeran’s song has musical similarities to one they wrote called “Oh Why”.

Sheeran, who appeared at the hearing in a dark suit and tie, denies the allegation

In 2018, Sheeran and the song’s other credited writers filed a lawsuit against Chokri and McDaid, prompting the pair to launch their own lawsuit for “copyright infringements, damages and reporting of profits related to alleged offence”.

The legal battle is expected to last three weeks, with Judge Antony Zacaroli listening to both songs in court on Friday.

Attorney Andrew Sutcliffe, representing the aggrieved songwriters, told the judge that “the similarity between the two hooks is striking” and that the songs “sound almost identical”.

“Of course, this does not in itself prove that the copying took place, but it is an essential starting point,” he added.

Sutcliffe suggested that Sheeran is a “magpie” who “borrows ideas” and sometimes fails to recognize them.

Lawyers for Sheeran told the High Court that he and his co-writers had no recollection of hearing the song ‘Oh Why’ at the time.

The PRS for Music, which pays royalties for the use of music, has temporarily halted royalty payments.

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Alice P. Darby