Ed Sheeran Wins Legal Costs After ‘Shape Of You’ Verdict

from the shape-up dept

The saga of Ed Sheeran and the copyright case over his Shape of You song may finally be coming to a close. The case, brought by Sami Chokri, was very thin, largely centering on a two-word refrain line repeated 3 times both Sheeran’s song and Chokri’s Oh Why. Sheeran prevailed, with the court stating that there was absolutely nothing to suggest that Sheeran was influenced, even subconsciously, by Chokri’s song. After the win, Sheeran noted publicly how dumb this all is and how dangerous the culture of settlement-seeking copyright lawsuits has become for the creative industries. It’s bad enough, apparently, that Sheeran has stated he now video records all creative sessions so that those videos can be used to defend against inevitable future suits.

So why are we back on this topic? Well, in this case at least, the court has continued to get things right. The final nail in the coffin of this whole episode is that Sheeran has now been awarded legal fees by the court, to be paid for by Chokri.

Ed Sheeran and his co-songwriters have been awarded more than £900,000 in legal costs after winning their high court copyright trial over the hit Shape of You earlier this year.

That would be the dollar equivalent of roughly $1.1 million. Chokri’s lawyers had argued that Sheeran’s team failed to provide certain documentation earlier in the trial and that, if they’d seen those documents sooner, Chokri’s legal team would have altered its entire strategy in the suit. The Judge’s rebuttal was fairly simple: you didn’t alter your approach one bit once you had seen those documents, so what are you talking about?

The judge dismissed arguments that the defendants would have changed their approach to the case if some documents and explanations about how Shape of You was written had been provided earlier.

Zacaroli said: “None of the disclosure or explanations, once provided to the defendants, caused them to alter their approach at all. Instead, they not only maintained their attack on Mr Sheeran but broadened it by asserting that he was a ‘magpie’ who habitually misappropriated song ideas from other writers.”

It’s vindication of a sort for Sheeran to be sure, but none of this changes just how consuming these lawsuits can be for an innocent creator, both in terms of time, money, and the costs on his mental state. He may get the legal fees back, but certainly not his time and mental energy.

Which is why this win still doesn’t change the fact that we have a copyright culture problem in many western nations at the moment.

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Comments on “Ed Sheeran Wins Legal Costs After ‘Shape Of You’ Verdict”

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David says:

"Innocent creator"?

I find that a really naïve expression. “Innocent” as such (rather than innocent of a particular charge or violating a particular law) implies a complete freeness from transgression, a non-taintment. That would only make sense outside of technicalities, like copyright terms, and would imply that only those creations are without guilt that are ex nihilo and not referencing or quoting any previous creation.

But that kind of autistic primitive art is comparatively pointless. “innocent creator” pretends to draw a line that is preposterous, like “innocent eater” or “innocent passenger” or “innocent customer”, as if any such act would be an inherent sin rather than something that does or does not meet an essentially arbitrary set of rules made into laws.

ke9tv (profile) says:

Re: Re: Primitivism

Art critics use ‘primitive‘ with a secondary meaning of ‘primary; cut from whole cloth’, as in the works of Rousseau and Gauguin. It connotes a return to a utopian world thought to have existed before wicked men sullied it.

The notion that those of us who are on the spectrum inhabit such an Eden, or at least have visions of it, is perhaps demeaning, but I think it’s at worst a poor choice of phrase; ‘solipsistic’ rather than ‘autistic’ would be nearer the mark.

The great art that came from Primitivism nevertheless does not arise from any sort of naive vision of the world. Rather than coming out of ignorance of the neoclassical traditions, it’s mounted in conscious rebellion against it. The original poster is therefore right that “innocent creator” is a preposterous concept. Even the scribblings of a two-year-old are at least in part reactions to the art that surrounds the child.

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

The Germans have a word for this...

Verschlimmbessern: to “improve” things by actually in the end making them worse

So… it can cost on the order of a million dollars, just to defend oneself against a trivially bogus copyright suit?

It sounds like the copyright regime we’ve created to protect creative artists, is going to “protect” those artists right out of business.

Naughty Autie says:


It sounds like the copyright regime we’ve created to protect creative artists, is going to “protect” those artists right out of business.

Actually, the record companies are killing artists with one-sided contracts. That’s why it’s a million dollars to fight a copyright battle: the big content producers can easily afford that with all the money they make off the backs of the real creators.

Crafty Coyote says:

What about “guilty creators?” Think of what guilt and innocence mean in the context of a trial and apply that with copyright, and you’ll see things that would only happen in fascist countries happening in supposedly free ones, all in the name of copyright. By criminalizing acts of preservation (libraries, museums etc.) and inspiration (the endless stories of petty individuals accusing other successful musicians), it makes our courts unfair, dishonest, and corrupt.

The only bright side of this is that by calling infringement “theft”, the over-aggressive plaintiffs have unknowingly given defendants the powerful rights reserved to those accused of crimes, and more lenient punishments that are a slap to the wrist for the wealthy. I think that the plaintiffs’ aggression will be their downfall

Anonymous Coward says:


The only bright side of this is that by calling infringement “theft”, the over-aggressive plaintiffs have unknowingly given defendants the powerful rights reserved to those accused of crimes…

So here you’re saying that courts should take hyperbole seriously. Here’s an example of how that might work: you’re seen talking to a child who isn’t yours, one of the parents sees and accuses you of grooming… You see where I’m going with this?

Crafty Coyote says:

Re: Re:

They DO take hyperbole seriously, from the fact that they equate file-sharers with historical sea-murderers to the asinine “You wouldn’t steal a car” adverts at the start of movies. If that’s what they want to do, then they’ll have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt theft actually took place and go through a time-consuming criminal trial where basic due process gives the defendants an advantage.

And as far as the whole “pedophile” accusation scenario goes, the perfect response is “You want to take this outside?”

Crafty Coyote says:

Re: Re: Re:4

The major difference was that Robin Thicke showed up drunk/hungover and immediately lost a precedent-setting case.

Seriously, the best thing to do would be to enforce an infringement as a theft so that we could all know that a work cost someone $500-1000 (the Class C misdemeanor theft penalty) to make and was shared for the entirety of the human race. Sounds harsh at first, but those with a martyrdom complex could very easily break that kind of law.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:


Well… good for him.
I guess.
Many here say he’s popular and I won’t argue on that. He? It’s a he yes? Has only one song in my suggested playlist on Apple and that’s a German bad o know quite well with (him) listed as a “with”.

Somehow (he) is simply, completely, off my raft.

Reality aside, anyone who faces corporate greed in dub/remix/cross that wins, is a win for entertainment!

Naughty Autie says:


There’s a reason that only works in one direction: if infringement is proven, the infringing copy is a derivative of the original work. The author of the original work nominally holds the right to make derivative copies, and if someone else makes what is later held to be an infringing copy, the original author owns that too as a derivative work. Turnabout, in this case, would not be fair play.

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