Pop star Katy Perry took the stand Thursday in a California court after being accused of copyright infringement by Rapper Flame and the co-creators of his Christian rap song.
The Christian rappers 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 claim Perry's song copied the beat from their 2008 song "Joyful Noise" featuring Lecrae.
“Defendants never sought or obtained permission from plaintiffs to use the ‘Joyful Noise’ song in creating, reproducing, recording, distributing, selling, or publicly performing defendants’ song,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs never gave any of the defendants permission, consent, or a license to use ‘Joyful Noise’ for any purpose, including creation of a derivative work based on ‘Joyful Noise.'”
On Thursday, Perry testified for 35 minutes in civil court. Prior to the lawsuit, she said she had never heard "Joyful Noise" or the artist involved, CBS reported.
However, she stated how co-creators Dr. Luke and Cirkut had brought her that beat.
On day one of the two-week trial, 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 on Friday. While Perry's attorneys argue 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."
The pop singer, whose parents are traveling pastors, initially tried to motion for early judgment last summer but it was denied. U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder wrote that the plaintiffs “have demonstrated a triable issue of fact as to access because ‘Joyful Noise’ achieved critical success, including a Grammy nomination, and was readily available and viewed millions of times on YouTube and MySpace.”
The judge ruled that the questions of fact will have “to be resolved by the jury.”
“Joyful Noise” currently has almost 2 million views on YouTube and “Dark Horse” has over 2 billion.
In 2018, several media outlets featured a side by side of “Dark Horse” and “Joyful Noise” to show the similarities.
The trial continues next week.