Katy Perry, collaborators ordered to pay $2.78 million for copying Christian song on 'Dark Horse'
A Los Angeles jury ordered Thursday that Katy Perry, her collaborators, and her record label pay $2.78 million in damages, according to the Associated Press, after earlier in the week finding that the star’s 2013 track “Dark Horse” copied a Christian rap song.
Perry will have to hand over $550,000 herself, while Capitol Records will have to pay the majority of the money to Marcus Gray and his co-writers on the 2009 song “Joyful Noise.”
Gray’s attorneys have argued that “Dark Horse” has earned Perry tens of millions, while Perry’s team emphasized the millions of dollars in costs used to make and market the song.
The decision from a nine-member federal jury on Monday comes five years after Gray and two co-authors first sued, claiming ”Dark Horse” stole from the song, released under Gray’s stage name, Flame.
“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 their argument, which ultimately prevailed, Gray’s attorneys also claimed that the beat and instrumentals in “Joyful Noise” are substantially similar to what is heard through almost half of “Dark Horse.”
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. Perry’s attorneys also argued that the elements found in the singer’s track are the foundations of music and that a decision against Perry would set negative precedents for music and artists as a whole.
“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 last Thursday.
In another highly publicized case last year, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay $5 million to Marvin Gaye’s family over similarities between the artist’s “Got to Give It Up” and their hit song “Blurred Lines.”
That verdict was divisive, as many felt the two songs greatly differed in many elements. Even an appeal judge asserted that the decision “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere.”