The copyright suit against Katy Perry for her 2013 single “Dark Horse” didn’t quite go in the singer’s favor. A jury in Los Angeles found that the song improperly copied a 2009 Christian rap song by artist Flame, real name Marcus Gray.
The nine-member federal jury deliberated five years after Gray and two co-authors initially sued, alleging “Dark Horse” stole from “Joyful Noise,” a song released by Gray. The case now goes to a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much the plaintiffs are owed for copyright infringement, according to Billboard.
Gray’s attorneys argued that the beat and instrumental line featured in “Dark Horse” are substantially similar to those in “Joyful Noise,” however, Perry’s attorneys argued that the song elements in question are simple musical elements that if were copyrighted, would hurt music and all songwriters.
Perry and the song’s co-authors testified during the seven-day trial that none of them heard the song or heard of Gray prior to the lawsuit, nor did they listen to Christian music.
Gray’s attorneys reminded the court that “Joyful Noise” had wide dissemination and could have been heard by Perry and her co-authors, providing evidence of millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and the Grammy-nomination for the album the song is featured on.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael A. Kahn, during closing arguments. He also pointed out that Perry began her own career as a Christian artist.
Perry was not present for the verdict Monday afternoon. No amount of damages have been reported.