Ed Sheeran has scored a second victory in his recent copyright trial after a British judge awarded the singer over $1.1 million in costs.
The sum represents approximately 90% of Sheeran’s legal bill.
Explaining his decision to award Sheeran such substantial costs, Judge Antony Zacaroli wrote in his judgment: “The starting point is to identify the winners and losers in the action because the general rule is that the unsuccessful party pays the costs of the successful party… There is no dispute as to this: [Sheeran] undoubtedly won and won on every substantial point.”
In April, Judge Zacaroli ruled that Sheeran had not plagiarised a 2015 song titled “Oh Why” by Sami Chokri in his hit “Shape of You.”
Sheeran co-wrote “Shape of You” alongside Snow Patrol singer Johnny McDaid and producer Steve Mac (during the trial he used his legal name of Steven McCutcheon), who were co-claimants in the action.
Chokri’s legal team had argued that, through a publicity campaign and mutual friends including SBTV founder Jamal Edwards (who unexpectedly died shortly before the trial), Sheeran had had the opportunity to listen to – and plagiarize – Chokri’s track. However, in his judgment, Mr. Zacaroli said: “I do not accept this. Mr Chokri is undoubtedly a serious and talented songwriter and while his management were unsurprisingly trying to create some hype around the release of the Solace EP, it had limited success.In my judgment, the possibility that these attempts might have led to it coming to Mr Sheeran’s attention – either because someone he was associated with played it to him or because he found it himself – is at best speculative.”
In April, following Judge Zacaroli’s ruling, Sheeran released a video statement in which he said: “Whilst we’re obviously happy with the result I feel like claims like this are way too common now and we’ve become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no base to the claim. It’s really damaging to the songwriting industry.”
Sheeran is believed to still be battling another copyright lawsuit, over his song “Thinking Out Loud,” and in 2016 was sued over the track “Photograph.” That case was settled out of court.