Jury finds Katy Perry’s hit ‘Dark Horse’ copied Christian rap song 'Joyful Noise'

Katy Perry performs onstage with Zedd at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 14, 2019 in Indio, California.
Katy Perry performs onstage with Zedd at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 14, 2019 in Indio, California. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

A California jury concluded that pop superstar Katy Perry’s hit song “Dark Horse” is guilty of copyright infringement, copying the Christian rap song, “Joyful Noise.”

Marcus Gray, professionally known as Flame and the co-creators of his Christian rap song had filed a lawsuit over Perry's single “Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J, which became a certified hit when it was released in 2013. They maintained Perry's song copied the beat from their 2008 song "Joyful Noise" featuring Lecrae.

At the week-long trial, both Perry and “Dark Horse” producer Dr. Luke insisted they had never heard of "Joyful Noise." 

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Flame argued that his song's success in the niche market went on to have massive success and the defendants may have got wind of it at the Grammy Awards or seen it on YouTube or other social media platforms where the song has been streamed millions of times. 

As things were heating up in the courtroom, an unrelated shooting took place just outside the courthouse while Dr. Luke testified at the trial.

Perry first took the stand this month, July 18 in a California court and claimed that was not at all familiar with the song "Joyful Noise" or the artist involved, CBS reported

Emmanuel Lambert Jr., popularly known in the Christian hip-hop scene as Da Truth, also took the stand. As one of the writers of "Joyful Noise," he revealed that the song was a big success in the Christian music world and could have been heard by the Plaintiff on multiple streaming platforms online. 

Todd Decker, a musicologist, broke down the underlying beat in both songs. While Perry's attorneys argued that the musical pattern is too short and common to be copyright protected, Decker testified that the ostinatos (short melodic phrase repeated throughout a composition) share “five or six points of similarity,” including pitch, rhythm, texture, pattern of repetition, melodic shape and timbre, or “the quality and color of a sound," as reported by Billboard.

After studying the two songs, Decker concluded that Perry "borrowed" the underlying beat from "Joyful Noise" and the jury ultimately agreed.

The pop singer, whose parents are traveling pastors, initially tried to motion for early judgment last summer but it was denied. The new verdict means the case will now move forward to a damages phase starting Tuesday, July 30. 

Perry's lawyers issued a motion on Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder to rule “that no reasonable jury could find copyright infringement based on the evidence presented at trial,” the disclosed.

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