‘Dark Horse’ lawsuit: Katy Perry, record company owe $2.78 million for stealing song


Jurors decided Thursday that Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label owe the writers of a Christian rap song $2.78 million for stealing elements of the 2009 song “Joyful Noise” for Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse.”

After more than a week of testimony in federal court in Los Angeles, the jurors in the copyright case decided Christian rapper Marcus Gray should get just over $550,000 from Perry, with her Capitol Records label responsible for the majority of the $2.78 million.

The same jury of nine unanimously found Monday that certain beats in “Dark Horse” were improperly copied from “Joyful Noise,” co-written and performed by lead plaintiff Gray, who went by the stage name Flame at the time.

“Dark Horse,” a hybrid of pop, trap and hip-hop sounds that was the third single from Perry’s 2013 album “Prism,” spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2014. It earned Perry a Grammy Award nomination and was part of her 2015 Super Bowl halftime performance.

Perry was not in court for the verdict, although she appeared in court Monday, along with the song’s co-authors, including producer Lukasz Gottwald (known as Dr. Luke). She offered to sing her song in the courtroom when technical snafus initially prevented lawyers from playing it.

After the first phase of the trial – was copyright law violated? – the second phase shifted to the penalty question – determining how much the Perry song had earned and how much to award to Gray and his collaborators. The two sides came up with wildly different numbers.

Lawyers for Gray and his two co-writers told the jury they should get nearly $20 million. Defense attorneys argued for about $360,000.

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