28 Jun ED SHEERAN AWARDED COSTS TO THE TUNE OF ALMOST £1M AFTER SUCCESS IN “SHAPE OF YOU” COPYRIGHT CLAIM
Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue are facing a hefty bill following their failed copyright claim against Ed Sheeran and his co-writers over the song “Shape of You”.
In 2018, Sheeran and his co-writers’ royalty payments were suspended by the Performing Rights Society after Chokri and O’Donoghue sought to be credited as co-writers of the song. Sheeran, the other original co-writers and the copyright owners (“the Claimants”) then brought a claim in the High Court seeking a declaration that they did not infringe the copyright. Chokri and O’Donoghue counterclaimed, alleging that Sheeran plagiarised the eight-bar hook with the repeated phrase “Oh I” from the chorus of their 2015 song “Oh Why”.
In a detailed and technical judgment handed down in April, Mr Justice Zacaroli ruled in favour of the Claimants, finding that Sheeran “neither consciously nor subconsciously” copied the song. zoom-in previously covered the case, here.
Last week counsel acting for O’Donoghue and Chokri (who performs under the name “Sami Switch”), told the High Court that the Claimants should cover their own legal fees due to their failure to provide documents, their conduct during the litigation and the subsequent impact of these failings on his clients’ approach to the case.
However, this failed to persuade Mr Justice Zacaroli who, applying the general rule as laid out in CPR 44.2(2)(a) that the loser pays the winner’s costs in civil claims, ordered them to pay the Claimants’ legal fees.
Notably, the Judge dismissed the argument that there was a failure to provide a pre-action protocol compliant letter of claim, as the Claimants had “done as much if not more than the defendants” (who were asserting the positive infringement) to set out their position. An interim payment was ordered of £916,200 with the fee to be assessed at a later date.