Katy Perry Wins Appeal Of Plagiarism Verdict

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A judge ruled on Tuesday that Katy Perry and her collaborators – including Canada’s Henry Walter – did not copy a Christian rap song when they created her 2013 hit “Dark Horse.”

U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder overturned the unanimous verdict last summer of a nine-member jury, which awarded the plaintiffs $2.78 million U.S.

Marcus Gray, Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Perry, Walter (Cirkut), Jordan Houston (Juicy J), Lukas Gottwald (Dr. Luke), Sarah Hudson and Max Martin, alleging “Dark Horse” was virtually identical to “Joyful Noise” which Gray recorded under the name Flame.

“Joyful Noise” appears on Our World: Redeemed, which was nominated as Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. Gray complained his song’s religious message was “irreparably tarnished by its association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in 'Dark Horse.’”

Snyder, though, ruled that “the signature elements of the eight-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’ is not a particularly unique or rare combination.”

She wrote: “A relatively common eight-note combination of unprotected elements that happens to be played in a timbre common to a particular genre of music cannot be so original as to warrant copyright protection.”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said they plan to appeal the judge’s decision. “We believe the jury was right and will do our best to restore their verdict on appeal,” said lawyer Michael A. Kahn, in a statement.

“Dark Horse” was the third single from Perry’s album Prism and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and won Single of the Year at the American Music Awards.

Perry and her co-defendants testified that they had never heard the Flame song and did not listen to Christian music. (Perry launched her music career as a Christian singer under her real name, Katy Hudson, and released a Christian rock album in 2001.) But, the jury found that “Joyful Noise” had been distributed enough that it was possible the defendants had heard it.

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