That Dark Horse was one of the hottest songs in 2013 is in no doubt. However, there have always been questions as to whether Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Juicy J, Capitol Records and others infringed on another song’s copyright to record and release the hit single.
As it turns out, they actually did, going by a jury’s decision early this month. Thanks to Marcus Gray, a rapper who goes by the stage name Flame, a lawsuit against Perry and co. has been in the corridors of justice for five years now.
A $2.78 Million Payout
After surviving a tumultuous journey pitted against some of the best attorneys on the land, Marcus Gray came out successful, with the jury deciding that the defendants have to pay over $2.78 million for copying Joyful Noise, a Christian song that the plaintiff co-wrote in 2009.
Although the amount given in the ruling was well below the almost $20 million Gray’s legal team were seeking, the attorneys admitted to being pleased with the court’s decision. After all, the sum is better than nothing, right?
During court proceedings, Michael Khan (Gray’s lawyer) let the jury know that Katy Perry and other defendants had made millions from infringing on his client’s copyright, a claim that is indeed true.
Dark Horse grossed at approximately $41 million, with Katy Perry herself making $2.4 million in the process.
Given the jury’s ruling, however, the songstress will only have to pay a little over $550,000. The bulk of the payment falls to Capitol Records, the label that recorded the song.
After the jury had come to the agreement that an infringement was indeed evident, the defense attorneys proposed a $360,000 payout, but as it panned out, their arguments didn’t hold.
Nevertheless, Katy Perry’s lawyer isn’t taking this lying down. Christine Lepera has already revealed that they plan on challenging the ruling, saying that justice hasn’t been served yet. And Gray though that the half a decade long battle was over!
One of the defense lawyers who held nothing back was Aaron Wais, who painted Gray’s legal team as being extortionists. He told the jury as much, saying that the plaintiff was only looking to milk the defendants of as much money as they could.
As per this lawyer’s argument, the part of the song in contention is only worth 5% of its total earnings, whereas Gray was seeking 45% of the earnings from the album wherein the song in question was released. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But if someone stole your intellectual property, you’d also want to see them pay, wouldn’t you?
Either way, Aaron’s argument deserved some listening to, particularly because the lawyer also mentioned that part of the reason the album made as many sales as it did was because of the artist herself, and not entirely the songs.
If we were to replace Katy Perry with an unknown artist, he argued, the album wouldn’t have brought in as much. He has a point, doesn’t he?
The ruling, while not being uncommon, actually caught many by surprise, seeing as the jurors found everyone involved with Dark Horse to be guilty of infringement. Will they eventually pay up? Time will tell!