Katy Perry Wins £2.1m In ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Appeal

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Katy Perry has won her copyright appeal in regards to her 2013 hit song ‘Dark Horse’.

The singer was sued by rapper Flame (real name Marcus Gray) in 2016, claiming that her single plagiarized an eight-note ostinato from his 2009 track ‘Joyful Noise’. 

Gray was originally awarded $2.8m (£2.1m) in a jury verdict in 2019. However, Perry is no longer liable to pay these fees after she appealed the case to a federal district court in 2020.

The decision from a judge of the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled today in favor of Perry and Capitol Records, saying that Gray was attempting to claim an “improper monopoly” over conventional “musical building blocks”.

The judge went on to say that the ostinatos in the two songs “consist entirely of commonplace musical elements, and … the similarities between them do not arise out of an original combination of these elements”.

The ruling stated that to allow copyright over this material would not only limit musical creativity for all artists, but would also be tantamount “to allowing an improper monopoly over two-note pitch sequences or even the minor scale itself, especially in light of the limited number of expressive choices available when it comes to an eight-note repeated musical figure”.

Perry’s victory in court comes while a series of A-list musicians are facing their own copyright suits in court. Ed Sheeran is currently defending allegation that he plagarized his 2017 song ‘Shape Of You’. Other artists who have recently been sued over copyright claims include Dua Lipa, Sam Smith, and Normani. 

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