A jury has found that US singer Katy Perry, along with five co-writers, copied the beat and instrumental line of Perry’s 2013 hit ‘Dark Horse’ from ‘Joyful Noise’, a song released in 2009 by Flame, a Christian rap artist.
Perry herself testified in court that she had never heard ‘Joyful Noise’.
According to Rosie Burbridge, Intellectual Property Partner at gunnercooke, the case illustrates the complexity of US copyright law and the high stakes at play in such cases:
“The US seems to take a much harder line on musicians than artists where the defense of fair use appears to be more readily available. Just because a song sounds similar to another one, it doesn’t mean it was necessarily copied. This can be particularly hard to establish when you’re talking about a beat rather than a melody” says Rosie.
“In some respects, a copyright case is the mark of success. For example, Ed Sheeran is regularly accused of infringing other people’s copyright works. This does not mean that the more successful artists are all infringing copyright but that when there is a potential claim and a lot of money at stake, it is worth bringing a claim. That is definitely the case in this instance as more than 13 million copies of the Katy Perry song Dark Horse have been sold to date.”
Asked about what would happen now, Rosie adds:
“The most likely next step will be Katy and the other songwriters appealing the judgment.”