Home Music Law: Pop Princess Katy Perry Loses Plagiarism Case with Christian Songwriters Over...

Katy Perry‘s “Dark Horse” is a horse of a different color, apparently.

A California jury has decided that Perry’s “Dark Horse” infringed on the copyright of a Christian song called
“Joyful Noise.” That song was written by rapper Marcus Gray, professionally known as Flame.

The Perry song was produced by Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), who was found liable as well as Karl Martin Sandberg (Max Martin), Henry Walter (Cirkut), songwriter Sarah Hudson and Jordan Michael Houston (Juicy J), as well as Capitol Records, Warner Bros. Music Corporation, Kobalt Publishing and Kasz Money Inc.

You may know the name Dr. Luke. He’s the guy Kesha accused of rape, and of wrecking her career before her Renaissance last year. (Dr. Luke denied all wrongdoing.) Max Martin is the prolific pop producer-writer who’s authored hundreds of hits for Top 40 acts over the last 25 years.

At issue was whether this gang had stolen the beat of “Joyful Noise,” which was itself written by other songwriters and licensed for “Joyful Noise.”

Can you imagine this happening to real songwriters like Carole King or Neil Diamond or Diane Warren or the Beatles? No. Because their songs weren’t written by committees.

At the trial, Perry, Dr. Luke and Max Martin all testified they’d never heard “Joyful Noise.” But Gray’s side pointed to the track’s wide availability on platforms like YouTube and MySpace between 2008 and 2012. Also brought up was Katy’s early career in Christian music.

This case sounds a lot like the one involving Coldplay’s lifting of the music from “Viva la Vida” from guitarist Joe Satriani. Of course, also invoked was Robin Thicke snatching “Blurred Lines” from Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” It’s also reminiscent of Ed Sheeran’s recent issues with rephrasing old songs.

But this situation is becoming more and more common as pop stars rely on these “teams” to assemble albums for them. They are all copying each other and copying other material. The whole commercial music business is overrun with this dilemma. That’s why top 40 sounds like one long overproduced session with interchangeable singers. Katy Perry is better than this, she’s proven it. I’m sure this will teach her a lesson about bidding for songs that many others want.

The money part of the story begins Thursday.




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