Katy Perry Wins Dark Horse Copyright Case

Posted on March 18, 2020

Last year a jury ruled that Katy Perry's 2013 "Dark Horse" hit song violated the copyright of Flame's Christian rap single "Joyful Noise." Flame (Marcus Gray) was awarded $2.8 million by the jury. A federal judge has now overturned the jury's decsion.

The case centered around an 8-note ostinato that is similar in both songs. The jury thought the notes were too similar in both songs. However, as Variety reports, Judge Christina A. Snyder found that these notes were not original enough to warrant copyright protection.

Snyder wrote in her decision: "It is undisputed in this case, that the signature elements of the 8-note ostinato in 'Joyful Noise' ... is not a particularly unique or rare combination."

This Nightline video from 2019 provides a good summary of the case through the jury decision as well as similar copyright disputes in popular music.

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