LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury's verdict that Katy Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" improperly copied a 2009 Christian rap song represents a rare takedown of a pop superstar and her elite producer by a relatively unknown artist.
Monday's unanimous verdict by a nine-member federal jury in a Los Angeles courtroom came five years after Marcus Gray and two co-authors sued alleging "Dark Horse" stole from "Joyful Noise," a song Gray released under the stage name Flame. A penalty phase will ultimately determine how much Perry and other defendants owe for copyright infringement.
Testimony in that phase will give jurors a peek into the finances behind "Dark Horse," a hit single that earned Perry a Grammy nomination and was the second song in her 2015 Super Bowl halftime performance.
Questions from the jury during two days of deliberations had suggested that they might find only some of the defendants liable for copyright infringement. The case focused on the notes and beats of the song, not its lyrics or recording, and the questions suggested that Perry might be off the hook.
But in a decision that left many in the courtroom surprised, jurors found all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable.
Gray's attorneys argued that the beat and instrumental line featured through nearly half of "Dark Horse" are substantially similar to those of "Joyful Noise."
"Dark Horse," a hybrid of pop, trap and hip-hop sounds that was the third single of Perry's 2013 album "Prism," spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014.