Ed Sheeran has been described as an “obsessive music squirrel” who consumed songs “voraciously”, during the latest day of evidence at his High Court copyright trial.
The singer has started a second day of giving evidence in court as part of a legal battle with two songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, who are accusing the star of ripping off parts of their track Oh Why in his 2017 hit Shape Of You.
Sheeran denies the allegation.
On Tuesday morning, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, for Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue, continued to question the star about several of his hits and his songwriting process, and the court was played audio snippets from the development of Shape Of You.
Mr Sutcliffe described the singer as “an obsessive music squirrel” who consumed music “voraciously” as proceedings got under way.
Again, he put it to Sheeran that he was able to create the “Oh I” refrain in Shape Of You as he already had Oh Why “firmly in his mind”. On Monday, Sheeran denied hearing the song before his own track was released.
No Diggity and No Scrubs similarities
The court was also played a voice note recorded by Shape Of You co-writer Johnny McDaid, in which Sheeran could be heard saying a version they were trying out was “a bit close to the bone”.
When questioned, Sheeran said there was a similarity to the 1996 hit No Diggity by Blackstreet, that it sounded too similar to the “hey yo, hey yo” section of that song.
An extract was later read to the star, in which he is quoted as saying changes made to Shape Of You regarding TLC and their 1999 song No Scrubs have “just saved us $4 million”.
Sheeran says it is “hearsay” written down, and that he never said that.
‘Unreleased music’ accidentally played in court
At one point during the hearing, the star appeared to get annoyed when an unidentified blast of music was played to the court, saying it was a song he wrote in January 2021 and demanding to know how it was accessed.
Following a break, the music was explained and Sheeran received an apology – the court was told it was an error, with the iTunes account of the computer being used mistakenly opened, playing some of the star’s as yet “unreleased music”.
Mr Chokri, known as Sami Switch, and Mr O’Donoghue allege that Shape Of You infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their song Oh Why.
Sheeran’s lawyers have told the court that the singer and his co-writers, Steven McCutcheon and McDaid, have no recollection of having heard Oh Why before the legal fight and deny allegations of copying.
Star ‘scrupulous as I possibly can’ over song credits
In his written witness statements to the court, Sheeran said he “always tried to be completely fair in crediting anyone who makes any contribution to any song I write”, adding that he had been “as scrupulous as I possibly can and have even given credits to people who I believe may have been no more than a mere influence for a songwriting element”.
He also described his songs as “excitement bottles” in written evidence, claiming there was “no premediated thought process” and that “almost all of my songs are written in under two hours”.
Sheeran and his co-authors launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare they had not infringed Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue’s copyright.
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”.
The trial before Mr Justice Zacaroli continues.