Pop singer Katy Perry is in hot water after a California jury found her guilty of copying a Christian rap song by Marcus Gray, also known as “Flame.”
After two days of deliberation, the jury found Perry, six songwriters, and four corporations that had a hand in launching the hit single guilty of copyright infringement.
The song under legal dispute was the artist’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse,” a tune that spent a month at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Though Perry and her team vehemently deny listening to any Christian music, Gray’s lawyers contest that Perry’s baseline track in “Dark Horse” is nearly an exact replica of the notes in the opening of Gray’s song “Joyful Noise.”
“Joyful Noise” was recorded in 2009 by “Flame,” accompanied by fellow Christian rapper Lecrae. Gray has been in a nearly 5-year legal battle against Perry for “improperly copying” the song.
“Lack of availability was a core argument of the defense, with Perry, Dr. Luke and co-writer Max Martin all testifying that they had never heard ‘Joyful Noise’ prior to being sued,” according to Billboard. “Defense lawyers [argued] that out of trillions of YouTube views between 2008 and 2012, the ‘Dark Horse’ writers were highly unlikely to have come across Gray’s religious-themed track.”
However, the 6-person jury disagreed, as the tracks were too comparable to deny.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” argued Gray’s attorney Michael A. Kahn, remarking that Perry, in fact, started her career as a Christian artist.
Perry testified she was “mostly always listening to … secular music anyway,” even during her Christian-pop career phase.
Musicologist Todd Decker claimed he identified “five or six points of similarity” between the songs in the trial hearing.
The song’s collaborators, including Henry Walter (Cirkut), Lukasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke), Jordan Michael Houston (Juicy J), Karl Martin Sandberg (Max Martin), Sarah Hudson, Warner Bros., Capitol Records, Kasz Money Inc., and Kobalt Publishing will all be held liable for the copyright infringement.
It is yet to be determined how much Perry and her co-defendants will be sued for in the penalty phase.
Take a listen to the two tracks below, and see what you think for yourself! Let us know your thoughts in the comments.