Katy Perry and her “Dark Horse” collaborators are speaking out against a jury’s decision that the 2013 track infringes on the copyright of a Christian rap song.
“The writers of ‘Dark Horse’ view the verdicts as a travesty of justice,” said the statement obtained by Variety. “There is no infringement. There was no access of substantial similarity. The only thing in common is unprotectable expression — evenly spaced ‘C’ and ‘B’ notes — repeated. People including musicologists from all over are expressing their dismay over this.
“We will continue to fight at all appropriate levels to rectify the injustice,” the statement concludes, indicating that Perry’s team will likely be appealing the decision.
The statement was issued by Perry’s attorney, Christine Lapera, representing the writers consisting of Perry; producers Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), Cirkut (Henry Walter), and Max Martin (Karl Sandberg); rapper Juicy J (Jordan Houston); and lyricist Sarah Hudson.
On July 29, a nine-member federal jury found that Perry’s hit track copied the Christian song “Joyful Noise,” released under Marcus Gray’s stage name, Flame. The decision came five years after Gray and two co-authors first sued. Perry’s camp will have to pay $2.78 million in damages, although her record label Capitol Record will foot the majority of the bill.
Gray’s attorneys argued that the beat and instrumentals in his song are significantly like what is heard through almost half of “Dark Horse.” They also claimed that Perry’s song, which was a single on her Prism album and garnered her a Grammy nomination, netted her millions of dollars in profits.
Meanwhile, Perry’s attorneys claimed that substantial fees went into the song’s production and marketing, and therefore Gray’s numbers were wildly overstated.
Lepera also stated in court that Gray cannot claim infringement as Perry’s song featured widely used elements of music and that a decision against the songstress would set negative precedents for music and artists across the board.
“They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,” Lepera said Thursday.
Many music and legal experts have agreed with Lepera, saying that it’s unfair to block an artist from using what are essentially fundamental parts of music. In a recent video about this case, musician and composer Adam Neely pointed out that the two songs in contention “don’t share the same melody nor the same chord progression or baseline or drum groove,” only a repeated melodic fragment whose variants have been used throughout music history.