A week-long civil court trial concerning Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” has come to an end after all nine jury members concluded the track infringed on the copyright of a Christian rap song.
The Los Angeles jury came to that revelation on July 29, noting that the 2013 single lifted notes and beats from Flame’s song, “Joyful Noise,” according to The Associated Press.
Testifying in court, Emmanuel Lambert Jr., whose stage name is Da Truth, stated the 2008 song was a major hit in the Christian music genre. Variety reported he also said the song by Flame, whose real name is Marcus Gray, is readily available on streaming services, so the writers of “Dark Horse” could have heard it. Lambert was one of the co-writers of the song, along with Flame and Chike Ojukwu; all three are the plaintiffs.
Perry appeared in court for her own testimony and said co-writers and producers Lukas “Dr. Luke” Gottwald and Henry “Cirkut” Walter brought the instrumental to her. That indicates the producers could have included aspects of “Joyful Noise” in the song without Perry’s knowledge.
Additionally, the pop star’s attorney argued that the musical phrase in question, which occurs after the intro of “Dark Horse” once the beat drops, is too common and brief for copyright protection.
“They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,” the AP reported Perry’s lawyer Christine Lepera said during closing arguments July 25.
However, the jury disagreed and after two full days of deliberations, they sided with the plaintiffs, who initially brought the suit in 2014.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” the AP reported the plaintiffs’ attorney Michael A. Kahn said during closing arguments. He also pointed out that Perry actually began her music career as a Christian artist. At the time, she went by her birth name Katy Hudson, before she made the switch to mainstream music with 2008’s “I Kissed a Girl.”
Ultimately, a decision was handed down Monday. The jury surprised many in the courtroom when they decided that all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable. Among the composers are Perry, who was on vacation and thus not present when the verdict was handed down, and Sarah Hudson, who only wrote the Grammy-nominated song’s lyrics, as well as Juicy J, who wrote the rap he performed.
Next, the jury is set to decide how much money Perry and other defendants owe to the plaintiffs for copyright infringement.