A jury has found singer Katy Perry liable after they found she and her collaborators copied a beat from Marcus Gray’s 2008 Christian rap song ‘Joyful Noise’ when making her hit song ‘Dark Horse’.
The verdict was handed down on Monday, 29th July in a Los Angeles federal court, and along with Perry, the song’s collaborators Lukasz Gottwald (AKA Dr. Luke), Karl Martin Sandberg (Max Martin), Henry Walter (Cirkut) plus songwriters Sarah Hudson and Jordan Michael Houston (Juicy J, who features on the track) were also included in the verdict.
Capitol Records, Warner Bros. Music Corporation, Kobalt Publishing and Kasz Money Inc. were all also found liable.
Perry released ‘Dark Horse’ back in 2013 as a single from her album Prism. The track was a success for Perry, spending four weeks at No. 1 and going on to score a Grammy nomination.
The following year, Gray and collaborators Chike Ojukwu and Emanuel Lambert sued Perry and her colleagues over the track, claiming they had used the beat from Gray’s 2008 track ‘Joyful Noise’, released under the nom de plume Flame.
During the trial, Perry’s lawyers tried to argue that the song’s creators hadn’t heard the track and do not listen to the Christian rap genre, also arguing that the section they’re alleged to have copied is so “unremarkable” (a tremendous self-burn, tbh) that it should be available to everyone.
“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 told jurors, according to the Associated Press.
However, the nine-person jury disagreed, ultimately ruling in favour of Gray and his fellow plaintiffs.
The trial will now move onto the next phase, to determine how much Gray and his collaborators are owed in compensation.
As Billboard points out, it’s not the first time in recent years that a major pop song has been found to breach copyright. In 2015, Robin Thicke and his collaborator Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay $7.4 million to the estate of the late Marvin Gaye, after a jury found that their track ‘Blurred Lines’ infringed the copyright of Gaye’s 1977 track ‘Got to Give It Up’.
Listen to ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Joyful Noise’ below to compare the tracks.