Jury finds Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' copied Christian rap song
The decision from a nine-member federal jury comes five years after Marcus Gray and two co-authors first sued, claiming”Dark Horse” stole from the song “Joyful Noise,” released under Gray’s stage name, Flame.
Monday marks the end of a week-long trial in Los Angeles; the case will now go into a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much Perry and the other defendants will owe for copyright infringement.
“Dark Horse,” which blends genres like pop and trap, was Perry’s third single from her album Prism. The track topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for four weeks in 2014 and garnered Perry a Grammy nomination.
In Gray’s attorneys’ argument to the jury, they claimed that the beat and instrumental line in “Joyful Noise” are substantially similar to what is heard through almost half of “Dark Horse.”
Meanwhile, Perry’s attorneys argued that those elements found in “Dark Horse” represent the foundations of music, and that a decision against Perry would set negative precedents for music and songwriters in general.
“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 Thursday.
Watch the videos below to compare the two tracks.
Perry and the song’s co-authors, including producer Dr. Luke, testified that none of them had heard of the song or Gray before the lawsuit, nor did they listen to Christian music. However, Gray’s attorneys pointed out that “Joyful Noise” had millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and thus Perry & Co. would have been able to hear the song. Additionally, the album it appeared on was nominated for a Grammy.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Michael A. Kahn during closing arguments, also noting that Perry started out as a Christian artist.
Jurors heard both songs played back-to-back at the end of closing arguments this week. Perry was not present for the reading of the verdict on Monday.