Pop star Katy Perry and her record label have been ordered to pay $US2.78 million ($4.06 million), after a jury found her hit Dark Horse copied elements from a relatively unknown Christian rapper’s song.
A US federal jury found the five-year-long copyright lawsuit in favour of Marcus Gray, who goes by the stage name Flame, concluding Ms Perry’s 2013 smash hit stole the beat from his 2009 rap song, Joyful Noise.
The pop singer has been ordered to pay $US550,000 ($807,820) in damages, with her Capitol Records label footing the rest of the bill.
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The nine-person jury analysed both tracks and found Ms Perry and her producing team ripped a key 16-second section from Mr Gray’s song.
However, Ms Perry’s legal team argued they never heard of the track, let alone listened to Christian rap, during the trial.
Dark Horse, from Ms Perry’s album Prism, spent four weeks heading the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 2014 and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ is currently the 20th best selling female pop song in the US and the 2nd most watched female English video.
The song has gained +2M streams in the last 24 hours. pic.twitter.com/yOh2F63gZC
— Katy Perry Press (@katyperrypress) July 31, 2019
Mr Gray and his lawyers had initially sought a $US20 million ($29.35 million) sum, arguing Ms Perry’s song netted her record label more than $US31 million.
Following the trial, Mr Gray’s lawyer Michael Kahn said the ruling was vindication for the ‘unauthorised taking of [Mr Gray’s] valuable creation.’
“It has been a long and arduous path to this day, but they are quite pleased to have received the justice they sought,” Mr Kahn said.
The ruling has sparked debate that the pop music scene could be ‘changed forever’, with some arguing the similarities between the two tracks did not qualify as copyright infringement.
just heard about the katy perry case. this shit worries me.
if you set the standards of creativity too high, songwriters will be afraid to write music on the off chance that it sounds like something they’ve never heard.
that’s not the kind of world we wanna live in
— grey (@greymusic) August 1, 2019
It follows a recent run of lawsuits lodged by artists of yesteryear against pop’s biggest stars.
Rock-pop superstar Ed Sheeran is currently subject to a lawsuit from the estate of Marvin Gaye over alleged similarities between their hits Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get It On.
And closer to home, Men At Work were successfully sued after their landmark 1980 hit Down Under was found to have copied the Larrikin Music Company’s Kookaburra.