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Derry rocker McDaid fights $20m lawsuit over allegations hit single was a rip-off

By Claire McNeilly

Published 10/06/2016

Johnny McDaid with Courteney Cox and (left) with Ed Sheeran
Johnny McDaid with Courteney Cox and (left) with Ed Sheeran
Johnny McDaid with Ed Sheeran

Snow Patrol star Johnny McDaid is to mount a vigorous defence against claims that he is a music plagiarist.

The Londonderry man has been hit with a $20m (£13.8m) lawsuit by two musicians who allege that 'Photograph', a song co-written by McDaid and Ed Sheeran, is a rip-off of one of their compositions.

Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, who have instigated legal proceedings against McDaid and Sheeran in the United States, claim that Photograph has the same musical composition to their song 'Amazing', which was written in 2009 and recorded by former X Factor winner Matt Cardle three years later.

So far McDaid - who is more used to seeing headlines about his volatile relationship with ex-Friends star Courteney Cox - has refused to comment on the lawsuit, but it is understood the 39-year-old's lawyers will be strongly contesting the claims.

Photograph, one of the tracks from Sheeran's multi-platinum album 'X', was far more successful than the song it's alleged to have been copied from, selling 3.5m copies worldwide.

Should McDaid lose the case, he may have to hand back almost £7m in royalties accrued from Photograph's sales and could also face a damages claim.

Harrington and Leonard have filed documents with a Los Angeles court which include musical note comparison and chord breakdowns of the two songs.

They claim Photograph - which features prominently in the newly-released Hollywood film Me Before You - shares 39 identical notes with Amazing.

The lawsuit says: "Given the striking similarity between the chorus of Amazing and Photograph, (the) defendants knew when writing, publishing, recording, releasing, and distributing Photograph that they were infringing on a pre-existing musical composition.

"The conduct of (the) defendants has been wilful from the inception of the creation of Photograph.

"The copying of Amazing by Photograph is breathtaking in its deliberateness, magnitude, and hubris."

High-profile Nashville attorney Richard Busch, who in 2014 successfully proved that the Robin Thicke-Pharrell Williams worldwide hit 'Blurred Lines' was 'inspired' by late singer Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up', will be representing the plaintiffs.

Busche won $7.4m for the Gaye family even though the two songs shared few technical similarities.

In an unprecedented case which sent shockwaves through the music industry, the lawyer convinced the court that "genre and feel" mattered more than sheet music similarity.

Amazing only cre pt into the UK top 100 in 2012, while Photograph reached No.15 last year.

Photograph also made the Billboard top 10 in the US, and has 208 million views on YouTube compared with Amazing's one million. British songwriter Harrington has written hit songs for Emma Bunton, 5ive and Kylie Minogue, while Leonard's writing credits include songs recorded by Backstreet Boys, Zero7 and Echosmith.

McDaid is forging a burgeoning music business outside of his duties as guitarist and pianist for Snow Patrol.

The former St Bridgid's Primary and St Columb's College pupil is currently helping to launch ex-One Direction singer Harry Styles' solo career.

Belfast Telegraph

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