LOS ANGELES (CN) – A nine-member civil jury in Los Angeles found Monday that pop star Katy Perry copied a Christian rapper’s instrumental beat for her song “Dark Horse.”
Marcus Gray, also known as Flame, and his co-creators Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu claim the beat in Perry’s 2013 track bears a striking similarity to the instrumental beat for “Joyful Noise,” which contains a repetitive musical rhythm called an ostinato.
At the opening of the trial in Los Angeles, Perry – born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson – denied lifting the beat and told the jury that she never heard of the gospel rap artists or their music.
During the 6-day trial, Gray’s attorney Michael Kahn of the law firm Capes Sokol argued “Joyful Noise” is widely disseminated enough on the internet for Perry’s team to have come across it and had the chance to swipe the beat.
Kahn told jurors the beat is a unique musical creation and is worthy of joint-work copyright protection.
But Perry’s attorney Christine Lepera of the firm Mitchell Silberberg disagreed, telling jurors the beat contained basic building blocks of music that are “commonplace expressions” unworthy of a copyright.
Lepera said in closing arguments this past Thursday that the amount of music on the internet is so vast that Gray’s song would be lost in trillions of hours of content and therefore could not have influenced Perry’s creative team.
After two days of deliberations, the jury sided with Gray, returning a unanimous verdict finding the pop star – and her co-defendants, producers Lukasz Gottwald and Henry Walter and songwriter Sarah Hudson – infringed the “Joyful Noise” copyright.
The jury found the concept and feel of the two songs are substantially similar and that Perry failed to show that “Dark Horse” was independently created without influence from Gray’s song. They also found “Joyful Noise” was disseminated widely on the internet and that Perry failed to prove her creative team did not come across the track and factor it in their production of “Dark Horse.”
Perry, who testified during the first day of trial, was not in the courtroom for the verdict.
The jury will decide in the coming days how much the defendants owe the Christian rap artists. Opening arguments of the damages phase begin Tuesday.
Record labels Warner Brothers, Capitol, Universal Music Group and Kobalt are also named defendants.