Katy Perry to pay $2.78 million for copying song

Katy Perry to pay $2.78 million for copying song

Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label must pay more than $2.78 million because the pop star's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" copied a 2009 Christian rap song, a federal jury decided Thursday. It was an underdog victory for rapper Marcus Gray, a relatively obscure artist once known as Flame, whose 5-year-old lawsuit survived constant court challenges and a trial against top-flight attorneys for Perry and the five other music-industry heavyweights who wrote her song.
The amount fell well short of the nearly $20 million sought by attorneys for Gray and the two co-writers of "Joyful Noise" - Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu - but they said they were pleased.

"We weren't here seeking to punish anyone," said Gray's attorney, Michael A. Kahn. "Our clients came here seeking justice, and they feel they received justice from a jury of their peers." Perry herself was hit for just over $550,000, with Capitol Records responsible for the biggest part of the award - $1.2 million. Defense attorneys had argued for an overall award of about $360,000.

Perry's attorney, Christine Lepera, said they plan to vigorously fight the decision. "The writers of Dark Horse consider this a travesty of justice," Lepera said. "Dark Horse," which combines elements of pop, hip-hop and trap styles, was a mega-hit for the Santa Barbara, California-born singer, with its call-and-response chorus of "Are you ready for (ready for), a perfect storm (perfect storm)?"

It spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in early 2014, and Perry would later perform it at the Super Bowl. Gray, a native of St. Louis, sued later in 2014. His song of earnest and ebullient praise stood in stark contrast to the playful black magic evoked by "Dark Horse," and an early version of the lawsuit faulted Perry's song for tainting the sanctity of his. The two-week trial had two phases: One about music, one about money. Perry took the witness stand on the first day of testimony. She testified, as her co-writers would, that she had never heard of Gray or Flame or "Joyful Noise" until he sued.

She got a rare laugh from the courtroom when her attorneys were struggling with technical issues as they tried to play a part of "Dark Horse." "I could perform it for you live," said Perry, who did not appear in court for the rest of the trial. The jury heard testimony from musicologists on the disputed section of the two songs - a piece of the musical backing track that plays during the verses of "Dark Horse" and throughout almost all of "Joyful Noise." While jurors were told to consider only those sections, they gave a surprisingly sweeping verdict Monday that held all six songwriters responsible for copying "Joyful Noise." That included Perry, who wrote only lyrics, her co-lyricist Sarah Hudson, and Juicy J, who only provided a rap verse for the song.

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