04 March 2022

Ed Sheeran previously settled a copyright claim in the US, court told

04 March 2022

Ed Sheeran previously settled a copyright claim in the United States over his hit song Photograph for more than five million dollars, the High Court has heard.

The British star was accused of copying from a track called Amazing, which was released in 2012 by former X Factor winner Matt Cardle.

Songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington sued the Thinking Out Loud singer, accusing him of “unabashedly taking credit” for their work.

However, Sheeran and his songwriting partner John McDaid from Snow Patrol reached a deal in 2017 with the songwriters to end the lawsuit which had been filed in the United States.

Details of the settlement were not revealed in the court papers at the time.

Matt Cardle (Matt Crossick/PA) (PA Archive)

On the first day of an unrelated claim against Sheeran, McDaid and fellow songwriter Steven McCutcheon, a judge at the High Court in London allowed some details to be shared with the media in court documents.

Two songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, claim Sheeran’s 2017 hit Shape Of You infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their song Oh Why.

Andrew Sutcliffe QC, representing the two men, said in written submissions that the claim over Photograph was settled in March 2017 with Sheeran, McDaid and music publisher Sony/ATV Music Publishing paying a lump sum of 5.4 million US dollars (£4 million) to Mr Leonard and Mr Harrington.

He continued: “The claimants received ‘a worldwide, income-only interest in the amount of 35% of the gross publishing revenues earned and received from the exploitation’ of Photograph.”

Ian Mill QC, representing Sheeran, McDaid and McCutcheon, said that the US settlement did not include “determination by any court on the essential question of copying”.

He continued in written arguments: “Mr Sheeran and Mr McDaid denied the claim and it was settled on confidential terms. They maintain that they did not copy Amazing.”

He added: “The allegation that the songwriters have habitually copied the work of others should accordingly be rejected.”

Sheeran’s single Photograph, from his album x (Multiply), reached number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 15 in the UK singles chart in 2014.

Cardle’s track Amazing peaked at number 84 in the UK in 2012.

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