Perry’s attorney argued that similarities were “basic building blocks of music” that “should be available to everyone.”A Los Angeles jury has ruled in favor of a Christian hip-hop artist who accused pop star Katy Perry of lifting a portion of his song for her 2013 hit single “Dark Horse.”
The nine-member jury ruled unanimously on Monday that the beat and instrumental line in “Dark Horse” were substantially similar to those of “Joyful Noise,” written in 2009 by Marcus Gray, also known as Flame, Billboard reported. Co-writer Emanuel Lambert and beat creator Chike Ojukwu were also plaintiffs in the case. Perry’s attorneys argued that elements in Gray’s song comprise basic music vocabulary that can’t — or shouldn’t — be copyrighted.
“They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,” Perry’s lawyer Christine Lepera said during closing arguments, per AP.
Perry and “Dark Horse” co-author and producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) testified that neither of them had ever heard the song “Joyful Noise.” But the jury said the music had been disseminated widely enough that they could have been exposed to it.
“Joyful Noise” has about 3.6 million views on YouTube while “Dark Horse” has 2.6 billion views.
According to The New York Times, Gray argued in court that his reputation as a Christian rapper had been harmed by the “anti-Christian witchcraft, paganism, black magic and Illuminati imagery evoked by ‘Dark Horse,’ especially in the music video version.”The jury found that all six songwriters and producers and all four corporations that released and distributed “Dark Horse” were liable for damages, reported CBS News. That includes Perry and Sarah Hudson, who wrote the song’s lyrics, and Juicy J, who wrote the rap he provided for the song.
On Tuesday, the case moves to the penalty phase in which the jury will decide how much the plaintiffs are owed for copyright infringement, The Associated Press reported.
“Dark Horse” — the third single in Perry’s album “Prism” — topped the charts for four weeks and earned her a Grammy nomination. It’s unknown if the case will affect her nomination.