Ed Sheeran has told the High Court that he does not “borrow” ideas without credit from unknown songwriters.
Two other songwriters have accused the singer-songwriter of plagiarizing portions of his 2017 hit Shape Of You.
Sheeran handled lesser-known composers differently than renowned ones, according to Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue’s lawyer.
Sheeran rejected this, telling the court that he had cleared sections of songs with “lots” of unidentified musicians.
Shape of You was the best-selling song in the world in 2017 after spending 14 weeks at number one in the UK.
Sheeran “borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he will acknowledge it but sometimes he won’t” their counsel Andrew Sutcliffe QC argued on Friday.
The singer offered multiple examples of times when he cleared sections of songs with lesser-known musicians during his testimony on Monday.
“If Mr Sutcliffe had done his homework,” he said, “he would have known that he had cleared parts of songs by “plenty” of unknown composers.”
Shape of You was co-written by Sheeran, Steve Mac (actual name Steven McCutcheon), and Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol.
“The evidence is overwhelming that at the time of writing Shape of You, your songwriting process involved collecting ideas.” Mr Sutcliffe told the star on Monday.
“You say it’s overwhelming,” Sheeran responded, “but I disagree.”
When asked repeatedly if he wrote the chorus of his 2015 single Photograph, Sheeran responds flatly: “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure. We collaborated on the tune.” It’s a term he’ll use multiple times during the morning’s interrogation.
The case of Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, who wrote Matt Cardle’s 2011 song Amazing, is important since it was the subject of a separate copyright suit. In an out-of-court settlement, the pair received a portion of the song’s revenues as well as a £4 million lump payout.
Sheeran claims that the lawsuit was a “nuisance” and “more trouble than it was worth” so he resolved it.
When asked why he paid such a “substantial” sum rather than bringing the case to court, he claims he followed his lawyers’ advice.
Sheeran is then questioned about his work as a talent scout and as the founder of his own record company, Gingerbread Man Records. It’s implied that he saw Sami Chokri’s song Oh Why on YouTube and subsequently plagiarized it for Shape Of You. He denies knowing about the song, claiming that he’d recently signed Jamie Lawson to his label and “wasn’t looking for anyone else” to collaborate with.
The court has just taken a lunch break. Sheeran is set to testify until late in the evening.