Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” infringed on the song “Joyful Noise” by Christian rap artist Marcus Gray, aka Flame, a Los Angeles jury found on July 29. The decision concerning the track’s underlying beat followed a week-long trial in Los Angeles civil court which included an appearance by Perry herself, who testified for 35 minutes.
In her testimony, Perry said that co-writers and producers Dr. Luke (Lukas Gottwald) 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 Perry’s knowledge.
Another cowriter of “Joyful Noise,” Emmanuel Lambert Jr., whose stage name is Da Truth, said the song had been a significant hit in the Christian music genre and is widely available on streaming services, thus it would have been easy for the “Dark Horse” writers to have heard it.
During Perry’s testimony, her attorneys attempted to play audio of “Dark Horse” but were thwarted by technical difficulties. Showing her characteristic sass, Perry offered to perform the song live, to laughter from the people assembled in the courtroom.
Perry’s attorneys also argued that the musical phrase is too common and brief to be protected by copyright, but the nine-person jury disagreed, handing the victory over to the plaintiffs. (Perry, who is on vacation, was not in the courtroom for the verdict.) Penalty will be decided determining the dollar figure owed to “Joyful Noise” stakeholders.