Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Improperly Copied Christian Rapper Flame’s ‘Joyful Noise,’ Jury Finds

A jury on Monday unanimously decided that Katy Perry’s 2013 Grammy-nominated single “Dark Horse” improperly copied Christian rapper Flame’s 2009 song “Joyful Noise.”

Flame, who’s real name is Marcus Gray, first sued in 2014 with two co-authors alleging “Dark Horse” stole from “Joyful Noise.”

According to the Associated Press, jurors unprecedentedly found all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable, including Perry and Sarah Hudson, who wrote only the song’s words, and Juicy J, who only wrote the rap he provided for the song.

Other defendants found liable were Capitol Records as well as Perry’s producers: Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut, who came up with the song’s beat.

Perry’s attorneys argued that the song sections in question represent the kind of simple musical elements that if found to be subject to copyright would hurt music and all songwriters.

Perry and the song’s co-authors testified that they hadn’t heard of the song or Gray before the lawsuit.

However, after Gray’s lawyers established the prominence of his song, the jury of six women and three men agreed that Perry’s song did infringe. According to the AP’s report, the jury found that the bumping beat and riff at the center of “Joyful Noise” were original enough to be copyrighted.

The jury is expected to decide this week how much Perry and other defendants owe for copyright infringement.

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Bryant Lydell

Bryant Lydell is creative, personable and quick-witted Howard and USC alum. He's the founder of The Top Tea, a songwriter, screenwriter and member of the casting team for Netflix's NAACP Image Award-winning hip-hop competition series Rhythm + Flow.

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