A federal judge in Los Angeles handed a major victory to Katy Perry, overturning a jury’s verdict that found the pop superstar and her collaborators copied her 2013 hit ‘Dark Horse’ from a 2009 Christian rap song.
US District Judge Christina A Snyder said in her decision that the disputed section of the rap song, ‘Joyful Noise’ by rapper Marcus Gray was not distinctive enough to be protected by copyright as the jury found.
“It is undisputed in this case, even viewing the evidence in the light most favourable to plaintiffs, that the signature elements of the eight-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’ is not a particularly unique or rare combination,” Snyder wrote in her decision.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal.
The jury in August had awarded Gray and his co-writers $2.78 million from Perry and her songwriting partners, Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Circuit.
Perry, who testified at trial and jokingly offered to perform the song live when the recording had technical difficulties, had been personally ordered to pay $550,000.
Gray, a native of St. Louis who went by the stage name Flame, first sued Perry in 2014, the year ‘Dark Horse’ spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Perry and her and her co-writers all testified that they had never before heard ‘Joyful Noise’.