Ed Sheeran has denied “borrowing” ideas from unknown songwriters before a judge amid a High Court copyright trial over his hit song Shape Of You.

The global superstar appeared in court to begin giving live evidence on Monday as part of his legal battle with two songwriters, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, who allege Mr Sheeran’s 2017 song rips off parts of their track Oh Why – something he denies.

Oxford Mail: Ed Sheeran at the Rolls Building at the High Court in London. (PA)Ed Sheeran at the Rolls Building at the High Court in London. (PA)

What is Ed Sheeran accused of?

On Friday, at the start of what is expected to be a three-week trial, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, for Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue, claimed Mr Sheeran “borrows ideas and throws them into his songs, sometimes he will acknowledge it but sometimes he won’t”.

The barrister also alleged that Mr Sheeran’s acknowledgement depended on how famous the other artist was, adding that Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue “are not Shaggy, Coldplay, Rihanna or Jay-Z, if they were they would have been treated in a very different way”.

Sami Switch Oh Why

Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue allege that Shape Of You infringes “particular lines and phrases” of their song, released in 2015.

They argue that a central “Oh I” hook in Shape Of You is “strikingly similar” to an “Oh Why” refrain in their own composition.

You can listen to the song here:

What Ed Sheeran said in court

At the start of his evidence on Monday, Ian Mill QC, representing Mr Sheeran, asked: “Do you accept that you behave or have behaved in that way?”

Mr Sheeran said “no”, before adding: “The examples he has been using are obviously famous artists, two of them are people I’ve made songs with.”

He continued that “if Mr Sutcliffe would have done his research”, he would have known there were “lots” of unknown artists he had cleared parts of songs with.

Ed Sheeran appeared in the witness box in a dark suit with a dark tie.

Mr Sheeran also gave several examples of when he had cleared aspects of songs with unknown artists, including sampling a part of a song from the TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer from an “unknown composer”.

“All those examples are not famous artists that we’ve cleared songs with and that’s what I have to say on that,” he said.

Mr Sheeran and his co-authors launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare they had not infringed Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue’s copyright.

In July 2018, Mr Chokri and Mr O’Donoghue issued their own claim for “copyright infringement, damages and an account of profits in relation to the alleged infringement”.

The trial continues.