Katy Perry and her producing partners have to pay up in a copyright infringement case over her 2013 song “Dark Horse”.
In 2014, “Dark Horse” held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for four weeks. But a federal jury in Los Angeles decided that the group must pay nearly $2.8 million in damages to Marcus Gray because they determined parts of “Dark Horse” closely resembled “Joyful Noise” a Christian rap song of Gray’s from 2008.
The jury determined that 22.5% of the profits from “Dark Horse” were owed to “Joyful Noise”. According to the verdict, Katy Perry must pay over $550,000. Her label, Capitol Records, has to pay nearly $1.3 million. Perry’s five collaborators on song were also ordered to pay, including producer Max Martin, who owes $253,000, and Dr. Luke, who was ordered to pay $61,000. Luke’s company, Kasz Money Inc., owes $189,000.
Katy Perry, listed in the verdict as Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson, made almost $2.5 million in profits from the song, according to court filings in the case.
Her attorney told Reuters the pop star would appeal the verdict. Perry’s attorneys argued, in part, that the portion in question was too common and brief to be protected by copyright, Rolling Stone reported. Flame argued that “Dark Horse” infringed on his copyright by using an underlying beat from his song without permission, according to court filings.
Perry’s lawyer made a similar argument about the universality of the infringement in her closing arguments. “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 said during closing arguments, according to the AP.
You could make the argument that these two songs also sound very similar to an older single: the 1983 song “Moments in Love” by Art of Noise. The site Musicologize made a great point (prior to the verdict) about the similarity of both those songs to“Moments,” and why Perry’s loss in copyright court may become a troubling precedent as a result.
Katy Perry – Dark Horse (Official) ft. Juicy J
Flame – Joyful Noise
The case joins a growing list of high-profile copyright battles in the music industry in recent years. The family of Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984, went after Robin Thicke along with Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I., the collaborators on the smash-hit 2013 single “Blurred Lines.”
T.I was cleared from the suit, but Thicke and Williams were ordered in 2015 to pay Gaye’s estate more than $7 million on the grounds that their song infringed on Gaye’s 1977 hit. That judgment was reduced to $5.3 million and the pair appealed the verdict.
Last year the five-year court battle ended with Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million.
ART OF NOISE: MOMENTS IN LOVE (THE ORIGINAL)
Source: CNN, VOX