Ed Sheeran has won his High Court copyright trial over his hit 2017 song ‘The Shape of You’, but he’s not the first celeb to fight this battle and he won’t be the last.
The 31-year-old singer was accused of being a “magpie” who “borrows” ideas from other artists, and he denied copying other songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue and their song 2015 ‘Oh Why’ – of which they said his signature hook that goes ‘Oh-I-oh-I-oh-I-oh-I’ was said to be taken from the older song.
It was reported by Sky News Mr Justice Zacaroli said the ‘Bad Habits’ singer “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied the phrase in a ruling today, Wednesday April 6.
‘While there are similarities between the OW (Oh Why) Hook and the OI (Oh I) Phrase, there are also significant differences,’ he told the court.
Sheeran isn’t the first, nor will he be the last, artist taken to court over their songs. Here’s more celebs who’ve battled it out for their work.
In 2017, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Swift for copyright infringement as they claimed that her 2014 track ‘Shake It Off’ contains “substantial similarities” to the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ that the pair wrote for girl band 3LW.
In Swift’s song the chorus goes: ‘The players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.’ The songwriters say this has striking similarities to their feature lyrics: ‘Playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate.’
This battle is still ongoing after a judge ruled that Swift would face a jury trial in the case, back in December 2021 to which Swift filed a fresh defence motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
In March this year Lipa wasn’t just sued once, but twice, for copyright infringement over her mega-hit ‘Levitating’. The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of the band Artikal Sound System, authors and copyright owners of the composition of 2017 reggae hit ‘Live Your Life’. The second lawsuit filed just days later on behalf of L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer (Brown/Linzer), composers of Cory Daye’s 1979 disco song ‘Wiggle and Giggle All Night’ and the 1980 song ‘Don Diablo’.
Billboard reported the complaint read: ‘The signature melody is the most listened to and recognizable part of the infringing works and plays a crucial role in their popularity. Because video creators frequently truncate the already brief snippets of sound on TikTok, the signature melody often comprises fifty percent or more of these viral videos.’ This is still on going.
Vanilla Ice, real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle, was sued by Queen and David Bowie over his 1990 song ‘Ice Ice Baby’ after he lifted Queen and Bowie’s famous guitar riff from their collaborative song ‘Under Pressure’ for the bassline for his hit. At the time the rapper added an extra strum to the riff and thought he’d get away with it.
Van Winkle ended up losing this battle of case of sampling without asking first and had to pay Queen and Bowie around £2.8m.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Blurred Lines’ is all kinds of wrong without being taken to trial for copyright, however Marvin Gaye’s estate did just that after they accused the singers of copying the “feel” and “sound” of Gaye’s song ‘Got to Give It Up’.
After months of legal back-and-forth, Thicke and Williams lost this battle and were forced to pay Gaye’s family around £6 million.