A jury has found Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label guilty and they must pay $2.78 million because the pop star’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” copied a Christian rap song from 2008.
After waiting for three days, Perry and Capitol records are now aware of what they are due to pay. Kate Perry has to pay $550,000, while Capitol has to pay around $1.3 million.
It was an underdog victory for Marcus Gray, a relatively obscure artist once known as Flame. His 5-year-old lawsuit endured constant court challenges and a trial against top-flight attorneys for Perry and the five other music-industry heavyweights who wrote the song.
Jurors had already decided that “Dark Horse” copied “Joyful Noise” and then were tasked with finding how much the defendants owed to Gray.
According to the New York Times, Perry’s five collaborators behind the song have also been required to pay, including Max Martin, who owes $253,000, and Dr Luke, who owes $61,000 personally, while his company, Kasz Money Inc., owes $189,000 which sums up to $2.78 million!
Michael A. Kahn, a lawyer for Gray, said in a statement to Music Business Worldwide: “Our clients filed this lawsuit five years ago seeking justice and fair compensation for the unauthorized taking of their value creation. It has been a long and arduous path to this day, but they are quite pleased to have received the justice they sought.”
Recent years have brought similar wins in disputes over hit songs, though usually with big pop stars on both sides.
In the case of another 2013 mega-hit, “Blurred Lines,” a jury found singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied R&B legend Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay Gaye’s children nearly $7.4 million. The award was trimmed last year to just short of $5 million on appeal.
No fight was expected in 2016 when Tom Petty won a piece of British soul singer Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me.” Petty’s publishers said that while it was likely coincidental, the song’s melody closely resembled Petty’s 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty and Jeff Lynne were added as co-writers on Smith’s song, but details on the monetary compensation weren’t released.
The below YouTube video, hosted by musician Rick Beato, is an enlightening take on the Joyful Noise vs Dark Horse case.
Beato breaks down the musical associations between the riffs which appear in each song, yet he resolves, melodically and lyrically, there is very little which can be considered similar in the two compositions.
Sadly, a commenter under Beato’s video on YouTube may make the sharpest point when it comes to how the Dark Horse case could now trigger further litigious accusations of plagiarism in the music industry.