Court is played Sami Switch 'Oh Why' song that landed Ed Sheeran in Shape of You copyright row

Ed Sheeran at court to defend a copyright claim against Shape of You. 
Credit: PA
Ed Sheeran is defending his song Shape of You in what is expected to be a three-week court case. Credit: PA

Pop star Ed Sheeran is at the High Court as he defends a hit at the centre of a copyright row.

Sheeran is involved in a legal battle with two songwriters who claim his 2017 song Shape of You rips off parts of their song Oh Why, and a three-week trial is due to start on Friday in London.

The singer-songwriter, wearing dark suit and tie, appeared in Court 15 of the Rolls Building in central London on the first day of the case.

The court was played the hooks of both Shape Of You and Oh Why on Friday afternoon.

Sheeran made no reaction when part of Oh Why was played, or as part of his song was later played on the court’s speakers.

Andrew Sutcliffe QC, for Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, said: “The similarity between the two hooks is striking and immediately apparent.

“They sound almost identical, they are such that an ordinary, reasonable, experienced listener might think that perhaps one had come from the other.

"This of course does not by itself prove that copying has taken place but it’s a vital starting point.”

Short clips of early versions of Shape Of You were later played in court and a clip of Sheeran’s performance at Glastonbury in 2017 was shown.

Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue allege that Shape Of You infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their composition.

Sheeran and his co-authors for the song issued legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare that they had not infringed the pair's copyright.

Two months later, in July 2018, Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue issued their own claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement”, according to the latest ruling.

Shape Of You was a worldwide hit, becoming the best-selling song of 2017 in the UK, and the most streamed song in the history of Spotify.

In a November 2020 ruling, Judge Francesca Kaye said the parties involved in the case “anticipated that they would incur costs in the region of £3m between them on this dispute”.

Sheeran may be called to give evidence at the case which is due to be heard from 10.30am on Friday.