The lawyer representing Ed Sheeran and his co-writers in the ‘Shape of You’ copyright trial has said the legal row has been “deeply traumatising” for them.
Ian Mill QC described the dispute as “terribly, terribly unfortunate” at a hearing in London yesterday (March 23) and argued that the case “should never have got to trial” [via Metro].
The High Court was informed of Mill’s comments as the trial is expected to conclude today (March 22) and Mr Justice Zacaroli’s judgment to follow at a later date.
Grime artist Sami Chokri, who performs under the name Sami Switch, is claiming that Sheeran’s 2017 hit infringes “particular lines and phrases” of his 2015 song ‘Oh Why’. He and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue allege that the main “Oh I” hook in ‘Shape Of You’ is “strikingly similar” to the “Oh Why” refrain in their own song.
Additionally, claims made by Chokri that he and Sheeran had “overlapping circles” of artists, writers and producers in common, stating that there had been a “concerted plan” to bring ‘Oh Why’ to Sheeran’s attention, were denied by Sheeran’s party.
Sheeran and his co-authors, producer Steven McCutcheon and Snow Patrol’s John McDaid, have denied all allegations of copying, claiming that they don’t remember hearing ‘Oh Why’ before the claims were lodged.
Mill argued that the case “amounts to a series of tenuous connections and bare assertions contradicted by the contemporaneous documents and the unequivocal evidence of a significant number of relevant witnesses”.
He added that in order to back the allegations made by Chokri and O’Donoghue, “an awful lot of people” would have told “untruths” during the trial.
In his written arguments, Mill claimed that their case that ‘Oh Why’ was purportedly consciously copied was “so strained as to be logically unintelligible”.
“The contemporaneous documents and evidence overwhelmingly support a case of independent creation,” the court heard.
“There is no credible basis upon which to suggest that Mr Sheeran had ever heard ‘Oh Why’ in advance of writing ‘Shape Of You’.
Sheeran and his co-writers launched legal proceedings in May 2018, requesting that the High Court declare they hadn’t infringed copyright. In July that year Chokri and O’Donoghue lodged their own claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement”.
Andrew Sutcliffe QC, who is representing Chokri and O’Donoghue, puts forward his closing arguments today.