Katy Perry Wins Appeal In ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Infringement CasePublished on March 19, 2020.
A California federal judge has appealed a $2.8 million decision on Tuesday, March 17, handing Katy Perry a win in her copyright trial over her hit 2013 song “Dark Horse.”
The U.S. District Court Judge, Christina Snyder, ruled that the singer’s song did not copy Marcus Gray’s Christian song “Joyful Noise” as the section of the song in question was not specific enough to be protected under the copyright law.
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“The signature elements of the eight-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’ is not a particularly unique or rare combination,” the judge said, per court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Last July, a nine-member federal jury previously found that Perry’s hit song copied the Christian song, released under Gray’s stage name, Flame. The decision came five years after Gray and two co-authors first sued the singer.
While Perry argued that she had never heard of the song or its co-writers, Emmanuel Lambert Jr. (also known as Da Truth), who was one of the “Joyful Noise” co-writers, testified that their song was widely available on streaming services, as reported by Variety.
Perry’s crew – consisting of producers Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), Cirkut (Henry Walter) and Max Martin (Karl Sandberg); rapper Juicy J (Jordan Houston); and lyricist Sarah Hudson – were ordered to pay $2.78 million in damages, although the singer’s record label Capitol Record was set to foot the majority of the damages.
Gray’s attorneys argued that the beat and instrumentals used in Perry’s “Dark Horse” were significantly alike. They also claimed that the singer’s song, which was a single on her Prism album and garnered her a Grammy nomination, netted her millions of dollars in profit.
At the same time, Perry’s attorneys claimed that substantial fees went into the song’s production and marketing, and therefore Gray’s numbers were wildly skewed.
Perry’s attorney, Christine Lapera, also stated that Gary cannot claim copyright infringement as Perry’s song featured widely used elements of music and that a decision against Perry would set negative precedents for music and artists across the board.
Numerous music and legal experts have agreed with Lapera, saying that it is unfair to block an artist from using what are essentially fundamental parts of music.