Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Capitol Records Officially Appeal the $2.78 Million ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Infringement Verdict

Attorneys for Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Capitol Records are officially appealing the $2.78 million copyright infringement ruling on “Dark Horse”.

If only this was the most shocking copyright infringement decision the music industry has witnessed over the past few years.

Though not quite the earth-shattering, industry-altering decision handed down in the Marvin Gaye “Blurred Lines” case of 2015, the $2.78 million award handed to obscure Christian rapper Flame against Katy Perry still gave plenty of onlookers some pause. Flame (whose real name is Marcus Gray) claimed that Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and other collaborators flat-out copied his track, “Joyful Noise,” released a few years before “Dark Horse”.

A side-by-side comparison of the two tracks reveals some surface similarities. But a deeper look by anyone familiar with music composition reveals stark differences. And both rely on a very simple melodic sequence and rather basic musical building blocks (for a full, in-depth comparison and analysis of the two tracks, take a listen to this recent Digital Music News podcast episode with music industry attorney Ed McPherson).

One big problem is that the U.S. legal system often relies on ill-informed juries, who lack any substantive knowledge of music theory or composition. Accordingly, John and Jane Q. Public are quick to hand millions of dollars to plaintiffs for ‘infringing’ songs that share basic chord structures, melodic hooks, or rhythmic elements.

Now, team Perry is hoping to reverse the damage.

In appeals filing this week, attorneys for Perry called the Flame ruling a “grave miscarriage of justice,” while pointing to “erroneous verdicts” that would create “serious harm to music creators and to the music industry as a whole”.

Perhaps the damage is already done, with untold copyright infringement lawsuits currently in the works — if not already filed.

Part of the appeal will focus on whether anyone knew that “Joyful Noise” even existed. In its original case, rapper Flame pointed to a Grammy nomination and noted that Katy Perry had seen a snippet of the song being played. Sounds pretty damning, though Perry’s attorneys are claiming this song was a “drop in the bucket”.

The key is proving that Perry was unaware of the track, and had little exposure. “Plaintiffs did not offer proof of one single digital or brick-and-mortar sale of ‘Joyful Noise’ or (the album) ‘Our World Redeemed‘ and admitted that they have no such evidence,” the appeal blasts.

“No reasonable factfinder could have concluded that ‘Joyful Noise’ was so well-known that it could be reasonably inferred that Defendants heard it, particularly in this digital age of content overload, with billions of videos and songs available to users with trillions of streams,” the filing continues. “The few million views of ‘Joyful Noise’ on the Internet presented by Plaintiffs, over a period of five years, equals an undisputed ‘drop in the bucket’ in modern-day view count statistics — and can hardly constitute widespread dissemination.”

The blowback is coming from more than just Perry, Capitol, Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Others saddled with a piece of the $2.78 million bill are Warner Bros. Music Corporation, Kobalt Publishing, Kasz Money, Cirkut, Sarah Hudson and Juicy J.


7 Responses

  1. Darryl

    He Paul resinkoff the fact that you called Mr. Gray an obscure christian rapper shows the bias you have through out this article. Also it shows for the most part that artist shouldn’t attempt to collect for their intellectual property. And I doubted that she is going to win that appeal with all those sex allegations she has towards her. Just saying

    • N

      The majority of people had no idea who this guy was until this lawsuit. Obscure is correct. Christian rap is a niche market, not mainstream. You do understand that obscure means not known or not well known, right? He might be known among Christians, but not the general populace.
      The fact that you implied she’d lose her appeal because of sex allegations that have nothing to do with this case, not only shows your bias, but you’d probably also make a shitty juror.

  2. Anonymous

    She needs to get sued for dressing up and imitating African history. The Egyptians/Kemites are not Eurpean/Caucasion people!

  3. Paul Lanning

    One frivolous suit after another, adjudicated by ill-informed judges and juries. An independent music tribunal is what’s needed for infringement claims. This shit has to stop

    • Tit for tat bring down the house

      it’s only that way Because it’s not big money doing it now.

  4. Paul Resnikoff

    Seems like the US Copyright Office, in cooperation with organizations like the RIAA, NMPA, etc., could create tribunals to adjudicate these matters with appointed experts. Court systems are overcrowded, they may welcome the move.

  5. Anonymous

    Oh no if Some small timer has to get extorted like she was for money using the same methods by groups like the RIAA capitol and everyone she ain’t getting a bit of a nothing from me. Fuck justice. Sometimes you just have to let it all go down weather it’s wrong or not for past grievance.