Katy Perry has won her appeal in the copyright lawsuit over her song Dark Horse. She was sued by Christian rapper, Marcus “Flame” Gray, for allegedly ripping off his song Joyful Noise. A jury initially sided with Flame and a judge awarded $2.8 million in damages, but Katy’s legal team appealed and she won. Katy was probably like, “Um, I’ve killed a nun; I’m not about to get screwed by some Christian rapper.”
Here’s the comparison of Joyful Noise and Dark Horse.
Originally, jurors found that the two tracks sounded similar enough that Katy and company (Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald wrote the song with her) had to pay the fuck up. The Hollywood Reporter says that the whole music industry saw their money flash before their eyes when Katy got hit with a $2.8 million judgement for having a song that sounded like another song. They all thought, “Who’s next!?” But California judge Christina Snyder declared that Katy, Luke and Capitol Records are off the hook, and she dismissed the original verdict.
Snyder comes to the conclusion after reviewing the evidence presented at the July trial and finding that Gray can’t satisfy the extrinsic test, which requires that a copyright plaintiff identify concrete elements based on objective criteria that the works are similar.
Flame’s “Joyful Noise” is analyzed, and the judge considers the elements identified by his musicologist Todd Decker. But none of these elements including pitch sequence and the temporal spacing of notes is protectable, writes the judge.
Snyder then looks at whether Flame can claim any protection in the combination of unprotected elements.
“It is undisputed in this case, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, that the signature elements of the 8-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’… is not a particularly unique or rare combination, even in its deployment as an ostinato: prior compositions, including prior works composed by the parties, as well as what all agree is a separate non-infringing ostinato in ‘Dark Horse,’ all contain similar elements,” states the judge’s opinion (read here).
“Because the sole musical phrase that plaintiffs claim infringement upon is not protectable expression, the extrinsic test is not satisfied, and plaintiffs’ infringement claim — even with the evidence construed in plaintiffs’ favor — fails as a matter of law,” continues the decision.
Judge Snyder referenced a previous decision about the Led Zeppelin song Stairway To Heaven, which had been accused of lifting from the song Taurus by Spirit, but US appeals courts found they did not commit plagiarism. That time, anyway.
Katy beat out nuns for a convent and now she beat out a Christian rapper for copyright. God must be a KatyCat!