Ed Sheeran's third album, titled 'Divde,' has been a major hit on the charts. With songs like 'Shape of You' taking over the stations and getting stuck in the heads of music fans everywhere, it's hard to deny that he's been successful. But after a major controversy surrounding the song possibly being stolen from the 90s R&B hit 'No Scrubs,' people didn't expect Sheeran to have another plagiarism claim.

The song Ed Sheeran was allegedly copying this time was off of his previous album, 'X.' That album was a huge success, just like his newly released 'Divide.' 'Photograph' was one of the most popular songs on the album, reaching #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #15 in the UK singles chart and getting over 300 million views for the song's video on YouTube.

It wasn't only fans that noticed the song, X Factor winner Matt Cardle took notice of it too - but not in the same way fans did.

A 'note for note' copy

Last July, the songwriters behind Cardle's 'Amazing' filed a complaint against Sheeran. They said, “This copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying, [and] makes up nearly one half of 'Photograph.'"

Sheeran isn't a stranger to accusations of copying other people's work. Before this suit began getting public attention, Ed was also accused in a case that is still ongoing of copying the melody, harmony, and the composition of Marvin Gaye’s 'Let’s Get it On' for his song 'Thinking Out Loud.'

In order for a musical plagiarism case to be proven, the lawyers have to prove the originality of the song in question, prove that it was likely that the person being accused of copying has heard the song, as well as proving that the similarities between the two songs are obvious enough that it was likely not a coincidence.

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In some cases, this can be a difficult thing to prove. But according to music copyright specialist Dr. Joe Bennett, this case is fairly clean-cut.

Although the details of the case haven't been released, it's being reported that Sheeran settled out of court for $20 million after the plaintiff said Ed has profited that amount and that they were seeking statutory damages. The songwriters of Cardle's song were allegedly seeking somewhere between 20% to 60% of the writer's profits of Sheeran's song. Still, experts were quick to remind everyone that it's important to remember that the settlement does not necessarily mean an admission of purposeful plagiarism.

Bennett said that melodically, “there are so many similarities between these two particular works, it is hard to dispute that it was obviously plagiarized and I’m not surprised they settled."

Plagiarism's rise in the music industry

Although Ed Sheeran has been at the forefront of copyright cases lately, he's not the only artist in the music industry who has been taken to court over copyright claims.

According to Christian Siddell, a musicologist who has worked on several high profile plagiarism cases in the music industry, the US in particular has seen an "alarming rise" in copyright claims in recent years.

In 2015, the Marvin Gaye estate was involved in a high-profile copyright case after the song 'Blurred Lines' was accused of copying his music for their catchy number.