Ed Sheeran denies 'borrowing' music as he takes stand in copyright dispute

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Ed Sheeran (right) arrives at the Rolls Building at the High Court in London, where he has brought legal action over his 2017 hit song 'Shape of You' after song writers Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue claimed the song infringes parts of one of their songs. Picture date: Monday March 7, 2022.
Ed Sheeran arriving at court where he took the stand to deny he borrows music from other artists. (PA)

Ed Sheeran has denied he “borrows” ideas from unknown songwriters without acknowledging them.

The Bad Habits singer appeared in the witness box at the High Court on Monday 7th March as part of a copyright dispute over his song Shape Of You.

Barrister Andrew Sutcliffe QC - acting for songwriters Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue - had claimed Sheeran, 31, “borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he will acknowledge it but sometimes he won’t.”

Watch: Ed Sheeran was accused in court of being a 'magpie' who borrows music from other artists

Sheeran was asked by his lawyer - Ian Mill QC - if he accepts that he has behaved in this way, to which he replied: "No."

Read more: Ed Sheeran appeals for neighbours to 'mind their own business' after planning row

He added: "The examples he has been using are obviously famous artists, two of them are people I’ve made songs with.”

Ed Sheeran on stage during the the Brit Awards 2022 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Tuesday February 8, 2022. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING.
Ed Sheeran's 'Shape Of You' has been streamed three billions times. (PA)

The Galway Girl singer gave several examples of when he had cleared aspects of songs with unknown artists, including sampling a part of a song from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer from an “unknown composer”.

Sheeran said: “All those examples are not famous artists that we’ve cleared songs with and that’s what I have to say on that."

Sutcliffe had alleged Sheeran's acknowledgement of other artists depended on how famous they were, adding his clients “are not Shaggy, Coldplay, Rihanna or Jay-Z, if they were they would have been treated in a very different way”.

Chokri - who performs under the name Sami Switch - and O’Donoghue have accused Sheeran of borrowing parts of their song Oh Why, which was released in March 2015, for his 2017 hit Shape Of You.

Sami Chokri leaves the Rolls Building in central London, where Ed Sheeran has brought legal action over his 2017 hit song 'Shape of You' after song writers Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue claimed the song infringes parts of one of their songs. Picture date: Friday March 4, 2022.
Singer songwriter Sami Chokri has accused Ed Sheeran of copyright infringement. (PA)

Sheeran and his co-writers, Steven McCutcheon and John McDaid, were barred by music licensing body PRS for Music from collecting an estimated £20 million in royalties from performances and broadcasts of the track following the accusations.

Last year it became the first track to reach three billion streams.

Chokri claims that he sent his song to Sheeran’s 'inner circle' as part of a bid to work together, only to hear the similarities when Shape Of You was released.

Sheeran denied the claims and had previously issued legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare there had been no infringement of copyright.

Ed Sheeran leaves the Rolls Building in central London, where he has brought legal action over his 2017 hit song 'Shape of You' after song writers Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue claimed the song infringes parts of one of their songs. Picture date: Friday March 4, 2022.
Ed Sheeran took the witness stand at the High Court. (PA)

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

Read more: Ed Sheeran says he no longer needs to wear his glasses

Last week Sutcliffe QC accused Sheeran of being a "magpie" who "borrows" ideas from other artists.

The case is expected to last three weeks.

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