A jury has found that Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” was stolen from a Christian rap song called “Joyful Noise.” After a week-long trial, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a jury of nine people determined that beats and an instrumental line from the song appear to be taken from the Christian group Flame’s 2008 song.
Flame, whose real name is Marcus Gray, brought a lawsuit claiming that “Dark Horse” took the beat of his song. At the trial, Perry, along with Dr. Luke, who produced the song, said that they had never heard of the Flame song, but Gray argued that the song had been successful with his audience. He said that it had earned millions of views on YouTube and MySpace and had been played at the Grammy Awards, suggesting that perhaps Perry or Luke had heard it at one of those places.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Michael A. Kahn said.
Kahn also pointed out to the jury that Perry got her start singing as a Christian artist.
Perry and Luke’s legal team also tried to argue that the beat was pre-existing before “Joyful Noise” was released. Perry argued that because the beat was a sample, to deny use would harm all songwriters, according to USA Today. The jury wasn’t buying the argument, apparently, because they ultimately found that the song did infringe on Gray’s copyright.
Perry made the audience in the court laugh after the lawyers were having a hard time getting the song to play in the room as part of the trial.
“I could perform it live,” she said.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) July 30, 2019
“Dark Horse” spent four weeks as the top song on the Billboard charts and earned Perry a Grammy nomination. It was the third single off of Perry’s 2013 album Prism. The jury will now determine how much is owed for the copyright infringement. The case is unusual in that most copyright cases either settle or are dismissed before reaching the trial. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” both reached trial this year decade for copyright infringement.
Along with Perry and Luke, the song’s collaborators include Max Martin, Cirkut, songwriter Sarah Hudson and Juicy J. They were all found liable, as was Capitol Records, Warner Bros. Music, Kobalt Publishing, and Kasz Money.
Perry wasn’t present for the jury’s verdict and hasn’t commented on the result.