After Winning the Copyright to Shape of You, Ed Sheeran and the Other Writers Received Over £1,000,000 in Legal Fees

After winning their copyright dispute, Ed Sheeran and two co-writers received a £916,200 ($1.1 million) legal fees award.

Following their victory in their High Court legal dispute, the ‘Shape of You’ hitmaker and his colleagues, Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid, who were accused of ripping off grime artists Sami Chokri and Ross McDonoghue’s song ‘Oh Why,’ have been given an interim payment of 11 weeks.

Mr. Justice Zacaroli stated in his decision that “I deem it fair that the claimants’ success is recognized in an order that their costs be paid by the defendants, without reduction save for that which is made as part of the process of comprehensive assessment.” 

The judge also criticized Chokri and O’Donoghue for their “awkwardness and opacity” in claiming that Sheeran and his partners should bear their legal expenses because they neglected to disclose papers.

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To evaluate the numbers and determine the ultimate total, a subsequent hearing is anticipated.

The judge noted earlier this year that “the one-bar phrase” in “Shape of You” and “Oh Why” were “similar,” but added that “such similarities are simply a starting point for a probable violation” of copyright.

The “Oh I” lyrics in Ed’s song “originated from sources other than Oh Why,” according to his analysis of the musical elements, which led him to conclude that the “Castle on the Hill” hitmaker “neither knowingly nor unconsciously plagiarized” the tune.

The defense’s claim that Ed heard the 2015 song before writing his was refuted by the judge as having only a “speculative base.” “I find, in reality, that he had not heard it,” he continued.

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Ed, Johnny, and Steven, also known as Steve Mac, expressed their gratitude for the decision after the verdict was announced, while they acknowledged that it had been “difficult” to have to demonstrate their credibility.

Mr. Justice Zacaroli stated in his decision, “I deem it right that the claimants’ success be recognized in an order that their costs be paid by the defendants, without reduction, save for that made as part of the comprehensive assessment process.”

Meanwhile, the judge dismissed Chokri and O’Donoghue’s arguments that Sheeran and his partners should pay their legal fees since they neglected to submit papers, citing “awkwardness and opacity.” A further hearing is scheduled to review the sums and finalize the total.

This year, the judge acknowledged “similarities between the one-bar phrase” in “Shape of You” and “Oh Why,” but added that “such similarities are simply a starting point for a prospective infringement.”

When comparing the songs’ musical components, he discovered “differences between the relevant parts” that “provide compelling evidence that the ‘Oh I’ phrase” in Ed’s song “originated from sources other than Oh Why,” concluding that the “Castle on the Hill” hitmaker “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” the track.

The judge remarked that the defense’s claim that Ed heard the 2015 song before writing his was only supported by a “speculative foundation.”

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