What do Ed Sheeran and the Chainsmokers have in common? Both are victims to the limited amount of notes in pop music. On April 6, Sheeran won a plagiarism suit over “Shape of You” wedged against him by grime artist Sami Chokri. Although Judge Antony Zacaroli ruled in Sheeran’s favor in Britain’s High Court, Sheeran expressed how these plagiarism lawsuits are “damaging” to the songwriting industry. In March, Dua Lipa was hit with two copyright suits for “Levitating.” “I feel like claims like this are way too common now and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no basis for the claim,” Sheeran said in a video posted that morning. “There’s only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen.”
The judge ruled that Sheeran and his co-writers John McDaid and Steven McCutcheon had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied Chokri’s song. Chokri’s lawsuit alleged that Sheeran copied his song “Oh, Why,” by repeating “Oh, I” in the refrain of “Shape of You.” To prove that the melody he used was commonplace in pop music, Sheeran sang “No Diggity,” by Blackstreet, and “Feeling Good,” by Nina Simone, in court.