LOS ANGELES (CN) – Pop star Katy Perry will likely face trial on claims she stole a popular song penned by a Christian hip-hop group for her hit “Dark Horse” and tarnished it with images of witchcraft, paganism and black magic.
Marcus Gray, who goes professionally by Flame, Lecrae Moore, who goes by Lecrae, Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu say in their July 2014 lawsuit that Perry used their song “Joyful Noise” without permission. The song received a Dove Award and appeared on a Grammy-nominated album.
In federal court in Los Angeles Monday, Perry’s attorney Christine Lepera of Mitchell Silberberg and Knupp said that “Joyful Noise” was not a big enough success for Perry to have known about it.
Lepera added that because the song was not widely disseminated, Perry’s creative team couldn’t have had access to the Christian hip-hop track before they composed “Dark Horse.”
Plaintiffs claim their award winning song had more than 4 million views on YouTube and another 1 million on Myspace.
Lepera called the internet views a “speck” considering the large volume of content uploaded and consumed on a daily basis on the web.
“There has to be a high degree of success or everything on the internet could be heard by a jury,” Lepera said.
Plaintiffs’ counsel Michael Kahn of Capes Sokol said Lepera belittled his client’s success and was pushing their music into the “ghetto of Christian hip-hop.”
Outside the courtroom, Lepera told reporters that the public should be concerned about manipulation of the number of times content is streamed online.
U.S District Judge Christina Snyder said Monday her decision was to deny summary judgment but indicated that a jury trial could divulge more evidence, allowing her to take a second look at the arguments.
“This is an extremely close case,” Snyder said. “It may make more sense to hear all the evidence.”
Plaintiffs seek a jury trial, damages and the defendants’ profits gained from the song.
“Joyful Noise” was created in 2007 and appeared on Flame’s album “Our World: Redeemed,” which was released in 2008. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album and “Joyful Noise” received a 2008 Gospel Music Association Dove Award nomination for the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Recorded Song of the Year.
Perry’s “Dark Horse” was released in Sept. 2013, remaining on the top spot of the Billboard charts for weeks.
Snyder has urged all parties to seek a settlement. The case is under submission and a trial is set for Feb. 26, 2019.