There was no escaping Ed Sheeran’s smash hit single “Shape of You” in 2017. Released as the lead single from the singer’s third studio album Divide, the song soared to the top of the UK charts and the Billboard Hot 100 over in the US, where the track remained at number one for 12 non-consecutive weeks. “Shape of You” also became the first song to earn three billion streams on Spotify.
But the fun stopped when Sheeran was taken to court by musicians Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, who allege that the Grammy award-winner ripped off their 2015 song “Oh Why” for his own smash hit. The case has been heard in court over the past few weeks, with Sami Chokri taking to the stand. But what do we know about the musician?
as per the Guardian, Chokri is a grime artist, who performs under the stage name of Sami Switch. Originally from Caversham, Sami’s passion for writing music and lyrics began at a young age. “My parents were very into poetry so I think I started writing poetry then,” Chokri told The Reading Chronicle back in 2012. Speaking to the publication, Sami also revealed that while attending secondary school, he came across “a lot of people who were very into grime music, and I started seeing that I could take it further.” Soon after, Chokri started making his own music and began gaining traction on the Berkshire and London rap scenes as a teenager. Fans can find some of Sami’s most recent tracks on his official Youtube channel, including “Stay Ready,” “Favourite Song,” and, the song at the center of Chokri’s court case with Sheeran, “Oh Why.”
Chokri and his co-writer O’Donoghue have alleged that Sheeran’s “Shape of You” copies “particular lines and phrases” from their 2015 track “Oh Why” — specifically the “Oh I” hook, which the pair claim is “strikingly similar ” to their own composition.
As per Sky News, Chokri and O’Donoghue issued a claim of “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement” back in 2018. Shortly after, Sheeran and his co-writers, Johnny McDaid and Steven McCutcheon , denied the allegations and kicked off legal proceedings.
Addressing the High Court in March 2022, Chokri explained that he feels as if he has been “robbed by someone I respect, or respected,” and, in a written statement, revealed the moment he first became aware of Sheeran’s 2017 hit.
“I was a passenger in my girlfriend’s car and ‘Shape of You’ came on the radio,” Chokri wrote. “She and I were both shocked to hear the similarities.”
as the Guardian reported, Chokri also shared his belief that Sheeran may have come across his track “Oh My” through the “many points of access that me and my team have shared.” However, Sheeran has disputed Chokri’s allegations in court, stating, “if I had heard ‘Oh Why’ at the time and had referenced it, I would have taken steps to clear it.”
The “Perfect” hitmaker continued in court, “I have 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. This is because I want to treat other songwriters fairly.”
Andrew Sutcliffe QC, representing Chokri and O’Donoghue, asked how Sheeran would feel if someone used one of his hooks in their songs. Sheeran replied to say it had “happened on plenty of occasions,” and that usually he does not “do anything” about it, before adding: “I’ve never sued anyone.”
Sheeran’s lawyer, Ian Mill QC, noted that Mr Chokri had not registered “Oh Why” with music rights body the PRS until April 2017 — three months after “Shape of You” was released. Mr Mill suggested the real reason for registering the song was so that Chokri could pursue his copyright claim.
“The fact you weren’t registered is indicative of the fact you weren’t earning money,” Mill said. “My main focus… was to get my name out there,” replied Mr Chokri. “I didn’t think about money at all.” As per the BBC, a trial verdict awaits.
Details of the Chokri and Sheeran court case arrive in the wake of copyright infringement allegations surrounding Dua Lipa’s hit song “Levitating.” Per Billboard, songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer filed a complaint on March 4, accusing Lipa of copying their two songs “Wiggle and Giggle All Night” and “Don Diablo.” The complaint arrived a matter of days after the British pop sensation was accused by the Florida reggae band Artikal Sound System of copying their 2017 release “Live Your Life.”
Elsewhere, Katy Perry recently celebrated a copyright appeal case win after being accused by rapper Flame of copying his track “Joyful Noise,” NME reported. “So just be sure before you take me to court, ’cause I’m a Scorpio, b****,” Perry sang at her ella Las Vegas residency in March 2022, referencing her court victory.
With contributions from Charlotte Moore.