×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Katy Perry, Capitol and Collaborators Must Pay Christian Rapper $2.78 Million

UPDATED: Katy Perry, co-writer and producer Dr. Luke, their collaborators and Capitol Records are on the hook to pay rapper Flame $2.78 million for borrowed elements in their song “Dark Horse,” a jury decided Thursday afternoon.

The jurors in the copyright case came in with a judgment that Perry should pay Flame (Marcus Gray) $550,000 after determining that her 2013 hit borrowed from his 2008 song “Joyful Noise.” Capitol will be responsible for paying most of the $2.78 million balance.

Attorneys for Perry and Luke did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.

Lawyers for Gray and his co-writers had asked for nearly $20 million in the damages phase of the trial, which began Tuesday, after the first phase in which the jury ruled Gray’s song had indeed been copied. Defense lawyers had argued that $360,000 was a reasonable figure.

“These defendants have made millions and millions of dollars from their infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright,” Gray’s attorney, Michael A. Kahn, said in court. Countered the defendants’ attorney, Aaron M. Wais, “They’re not seeking fairness. They’re seeking to obtain as much money as possible.”

The plaintiffs contended that “Dark Horse” was responsible for $31 million coming in to Capitol, counting not just profits from the single itself but the album and live DVD on which it appeared. Capitol disputed that accounting and maintained that after production and promotion expenses, the label’s profits from the song were only $650,000.

Essentially, Gray’s attorney wanted to argue that “Dark Horse” was responsible for virtually the entire success of the entire “Prism” album and its offshoots, while Capitol wanted to argue that, as one of 13 songs on the album (or 16 on the deluxe edition), the album’s earnings should be divided by that many numbers. Clearly, the jury decided that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

As Variety reported Wednesday, Perry could be off the hook for the damages per her producer contract with producer and co-writer Dr. Luke (Lucasz Gottwald). Such contracts typically indemnify artists from financial damages in the event of a lawsuit from their independent contributions to the song. Perry said as much in her testimony last month, testifying that Luke and Cirkut (Henry Walter) brought her the song’s instrumental track, which suggests the two could have included elements of “Joyful Noise” in the song without her knowledge.

“If the producer brings in their own beats or music that the artist then adds lyrics or a melody to, typically the producer deals indemnify the artist for any breach of warrant, and the warranty would be that all the music is original,” said music attorney Ed McPherson, who specializes in copyright and has handled cases for Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Limp Bizkit, Fergie, Linkin Park and others.

Less clear is whether Perry or Luke indemnified Capitol, although the label usually is covered in such situations, and usually by the artist. “In theory, her damages would be limited to what she earned,” McPherson said. “However, she may very well have to pay damages for what the record label and publisher earned as well, through her own indemnity obligations.  The jury will award a percentage of what each individual and entity earns. After they render the verdict, the indemnities will take over, and all of the defendants will have to figure out how they are going to divide the damage payments.”

However, that process may take months or years, as an appeal seems likely. A motion from Perry’s lawyers, requesting U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder to rule that no reasonable jury could find copyright infringement based on the evidence presented at trial, is still pending. If Snyder takes Perry’s side, the damages ruling is moot.

More Music

  • Alicia Keys23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards,

    Alicia Keys Will Return as 2020 Grammy Awards Host

    Alicia Keys will return as the host of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. Keys hosted the awards show for the first time in 2019. She will become the third woman and the first female music star to host the show twice. Keys has won 15 Grammy awards and is second only to Paul Simon as [...]

  • Lady Antebellum and Halsey53rd Annual CMA

    Halsey Puts the Extra Lady in Lady Antebellum in Elegant CMA Awards Medley

    Halsey is increasingly proving herself a woman for all seasons in her varied TV appearances and awards show collaborations, and Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast was no exception, as she ingratiated herself into the country vocal trio Lady Antebellum for some flawless four-part harmony on a medley of two of their respective hits. She and Lady [...]

  • Drummers Steve Gorman, left, and Dave

    Steve Gorman Calls The Black Crowes' Reunion ‘Sad’

    The Black Crowes made waves this week when they officially announced a lengthy reunion tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album “Shake Your Money Maker.” The news was chiefly met with excitement and positive vibes, including glowing reviews of their first show in six years at the Bowery Ballroom in New York [...]

  • Lil Nas X53rd Annual CMA Awards,

    CMA Awards 2019: Full Winners List (Updating Live)

    The CMA Awards are taking place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday night, with Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton hosting. The ceremony is airing live on ABC. Maren Morris leads the nominations with six total. Nominees and winners were selected by more than 7,400 industry professional members from the Country Music Association. [...]

  • Billie Eilish performs during Music MidTown

    Song Review: Billie Eilish’s ‘Everything I Wanted’ (Listen)

    Virtually everything about Billie Eilish’s career has been against the grain, unusual or at least unlike basically everyone else, and that’s also the case with “Everything I Wanted,” her first new song since July’s “Bad Guy” remix with Justin Bieber. Frankly, it couldn’t be much further from “Bad Guy”: Neither a menacing banger like that [...]

  • Paradigm's Liz Morentin portrait session in

    Paradigm's Executive VP of Communications Liz Morentin to Exit Agency

    Liz Morentin is stepping down from her role as executive vice president of communications at Paradigm, Variety has learned. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Morentin’s departure was amicable and she will stay on at the agency through the end of the year to help with the transition. No replacement has been named at [...]

  • Carrie UnderwoodThe Grand Ole Opry, Nashville,

    How to Watch the 2019 CMA Awards Online

    Carrie Underwood fans can catch her hosting the 53rd annual Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night. While her usual co-host Brad Paisley has bowed out of the gig this year, Underwood will continue her 12-year streak with Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton joining her. Together, the three will celebrate the biggest names in today’s country [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content