Katy Perry wins in Dark Horse copyright appeal
Written by Lola Narawa on March 12, 2022
Katy Perry will no longer have to pay $2.8m (£2.1m) to a rapper who said she stole his song on her hit Dark Horse.
Marcus Gray sued Perry in 2014, saying she had plagiarised an eight-note riff from his track Joyful Noise.
A jury agreed and awarded him the $2.8m payout, but a judge later overturned that verdict, saying the melody was not “particularly unique or rare”.
Upholding that decision, an appeals court said the original verdict could have suffocated musical creativity.
In a 3-0 verdict, the court said Gray had been attempting to claim an “improper monopoly” over conventional “musical building blocks” when he first sued Perry in 2014.
“The trial record compels us to conclude that the ostinatos at issue here consist entirely of commonplace musical elements, and that the similarities between them do not arise out of an original combination of these elements,” the new ruling reads.
“Allowing a copyright over this material would essentially amount 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.”
The ruling brings the eight-year trial to an end, barring an unlikely trip to the US Supreme Court.