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.