Katy Perry’s song “Dark Horse”, featuring rapper Juicy J, was her ninth single in the US, and the second biggest selling song worldwide in 2014. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award and grossed 2.6 billion times on YouTube.
“Joyful Noise”, released by Christian rapper Marcus Gray, also known as Flame, in 2009 also had millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and the album in which he was included was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Perry and her five fellow writers and producers may not have heard Joyful Noise before writing and recording “Dark Horse.” But that didn’t stop a jury in Los Angeles Determine that Perry’s song incorrectly stole items from GrayFind it, Capitol Records, and producers Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut are responsible for copyright infringement.
Song from song, note by note
Gray’s lawyers successfully argued that the rhythm and line of the instruments featured in “Dark Horse” was very similar to that in “Joyful Noise,” a song Gray co-wrote with Emmanuel Lambert and Chick Ojukwu. “They are trying to push Mr. Gray into some evangelical music alleys that no one has ever visited,” their attorney Michael A. Kane argued, confronting Perry and the other defendants who claim they have never met Gray or his music.
But the source of both songs may have been more racist. Music experts called by Perry’s lawyers also testified during the trial. Someone even said that the disputed musical styles were as simple as “Mary has a small pregnancy”. (Vox and Musicologize also referenced the 1983 track, “Moments in Love” from Art of Noise, Which has broadly similar aspects.)
Perry’s attorney Christine Libera argued unsuccessfully during the closing arguments, “They are trying to have the basic building blocks of music. The alphabet of music should be accessible to all.”
side by side
Now that the jury finds Perry and her team liable for the copyright infringement, they will move to determine which damages, if any, they will have to pay to Gray. Meanwhile, you can check and compare both songs for yourself:
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