A Los Angeles jury has ruled that Katy Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" featuring Juicy J infringed on the 2008 rap song "Joyful Noise" by Christian rapper Flame featuring Lecrae and John Reilly. In a unanimous decision handed down on July 29, the jurors decided that the beat of Perry's smash hit improperly copied the beat of the Christian rap song, creating a perfect storm of copyright infringement.
The 2013 hit single off Perry's fourth album, Prism, was produced by Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut. At the time of its release, the track was lauded for its strategic mix of techno, pop and trap and bolstered by an opulent, Ancient Egyptian-inspired music video. By the end of 2014, "Dark Horse" peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Songs chart.
"Joyful Noise," on the other hand, was released by Flame, née Marcus Gray, in 2008 via the rapper's fourth album, Our World: Redeemed. The track was nominated by the Gospel Music Association for Rap/Hip-Hop Recorded Song of the Year in 2009 and the album as a whole was nominated for a 2009 Grammy in the category of Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album.
Gray originally filed the suit against Perry and her collaborators in 2014 as the success of "Dark Horse" grew. In the week-long trial that preceded the ruling on Monday, Perry and her co-defendants claimed that they had never heard of "Joyful Noise." But the jury ruled that the notes of the beat of "Dark Horse" were too similar to "Joyful Noise" to be distinguished. Perry, songwriter Sarah Hudson and Juicy J as well as Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut were all ruled to be liable.
According to the AP, the jury has yet to decide how much Perry and her collaborators owe Gray for copyright infringement.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Good morning. I'm David Greene.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DARK HORSE")
KATY PERRY: (Singing) Mark my words, this love will make you levitate.
GREENE: This really takes you back to the summer of 2014, doesn't it? Well, a jury here in LA found that Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" copied this song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOYFUL NOISE")
FLAME: (Singing) Your boy's been a Christian - how long? - quite a few years. Yes.
GREENE: That is "Joyful Noise" by the Christian rapper Flame. Perry and her co-defendants say they had never heard of it, but the unanimous verdict said it was a perfect storm of copyright infringement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.