Katy Perry and team must pay £2.3m for copying song for Dark Horse hit
Katy Perry, her co-writers and her record label have been ordered to pay $2.78m (£2.3m) to a rapper after a jury found her hit single Dark Horse was copied from a Christian song.
The singer herself must pay $550,000 (£453,000), with Capitol Records picking up the majority of the bill.
It comes after relatively unknown artist Marcus Gray, known as Flame, and two co-authors, won a five-year law suit against the pop star and her team.
They claimed Perry’s 2013 track stole from their 2009 Christian rap song, Joyful Noise.
Although the payout was less than the $20m (£16.5m) their lawyers sought on their behalf, they said they were pleased with the decision.
Gray’s lawyer Michael A Kahn told the jury: “These defendants have made millions and millions of dollars from their infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright.”
Because the rhythmic instrumental riff from Joyful Noise plays through 45% of Dark Horse, Mr Kahn said his clients were entitled to 45% of the entire earnings of Perry’s album Prism, where her song appears.
The defence – which had argued for an award of almost £300,000 – recommended dividing the money by the number of songs on the album.
But Mr Kahn added: “A CD is a CD, you can’t break it into pieces.
“Every album had an infringing song. And not just any song, but the most popular song on the album.”
Perry’s lawyer Christine Lepera said the team planned to vigorously fight the decision, as the writers of Dark Horse considered it as a “travesty of justice”.
Both sides agreed Perry made a profit of $2.4m (£2m), while Gray’s lawyers argued her song had grossed about $41m (£34m).
But the defence claimed the amount Gray sought was based on ludicrous figures and that they were “not seeking fairness” – but were instead “seeking to obtain as much money as possible”.
Lawyer Aaron M Wais argued that based on expert testimony, the disputed part of Dark Horse was worth only 5% of its earnings and that Perry was the biggest driver of them, as she was already a major star when she recorded the song.
He said: “The reason why people buy a Katy Perry album, buy a Katy Perry song, is because it’s Katy Perry.
“If you replaced her with an anonymous artist, do you really think it would sell as well?”
On Monday, jurors found all six writers of Dark Horse were liable for copying from Joyful Noise, though only a section of the instrumental track was in dispute.
All of them testified that they had never heard of Gray or his song before the case was brought to court.
But Gray and his lawyer only had to prove that they had ample opportunity to have heard it.
In a similar dispute in recent years, Blurred Lines’ singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay £6m to Marvin Gaye’s children after a jury found they copied the R&B legend’s track Got to Give it Up – but the amount was cut to £4.1m on appeal.