29 Apr 2022



Sheeran was claimed to have replicated the song “Oh Why” as “Oh I” into the song Shape of You. Pursued with various such allegations, Chokri and O’Donoghue purported that the song Shape of You by Sheeran infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their song that was released in the year 2015. Titular terms designating Sheeran as a “magpie”, one who borrows ideas from other artists to use it in his work and “habitual copier” were used to evidence that it is extremely likely for him to have heard the song “Oh Why”. The High Court also heard that PRS for music – the industry body that collects and distributes royalties – had suspended payment to Sheeran and his co-writers for the performances or broadcasts of Shape of You.


It was contended that while “oh Why” was being promoted in the year 2015, Artists & Company that was working with Chokri were finding ways for Sheeran to listen to the song and recognize Chokri to be talented. The two songs were alleged to have unmistakably similar hooks and melodic progression including the rhythmic transitions used in the song “Oh Why” and hence was a disgrace to top management working with Chokri and O’Donoghue as no credits for the same was rendered to them. The profound technicalities in pertinence to the musical notes and progressions were claimed by the forensic musicologists to have been replicated in the song “Shape of You”. To substantiate their claims, snippets of both the video and sound recording were produced.


While denying every allegation put forth against Sheeran, it was added that the stress caused to them and their mental health was excruciating. Sheeran denied to have borrowed any such alleged musical notes while substantiating that even in the past when he took references from other writer’s work, he made sure that due credit for the same is given or clearance is obtained. While defending himself he spoke that and is quoted as under:

I have always tried to be completely fair in crediting anyone who makes any contribution to any song I write. “I do 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 obtain clearance.”

Furthermore, while putting their stance before the court, Sheeran’s co-writers iterated that the alleged song was created from scratch and with an extraordinary speed. The producer of the song defended the singer by putting forth relevant aspects such as the success that he enjoys internationally and how unacceptable it would be to assess that a man of international recognition and achievements would go on copying other lesser known artists.


Sheeran swept a clear win in this copyright battle after Justice Zacaroli declared that Sheeran has neither deliberately nor sub-consciously replicated the captioned notes “oh why”  into his song Shape of You. As quoted by him: Listening to the sounds as a whole … the two phrases play very different roles in their respective songs. “The OW Hook (in Oh Why) is the central part of the song and reflects the song’s slow, brooding and questioning mood. “Without diminishing its importance, the OI Phrase (in Shape of You) plays a very different role – something catchy to fill the bar before each repeated phrase ‘I’m in love with your body’.

The court also laid sufficient emphasis on the respective moods of both the songs in question and dictated that there is negligible possibility for Sheeran to have got inspired from the alleged song and copied the subject terms into his song.