A jury found Katy Perry liable for copying the underlying beat of Marcus Gray’s 2008 Christian rap song “Joyful Noise” for her hit single “Dark Horse” in a unanimous decision handed down this week in Los Angeles federal court.
Also found liable were Perry’s “Dark Horse” collaborators Lukasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke), 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.
After a trial lasting seven days, the jury of six women and three men ultimately decided in favor of the plaintiffs – Gray (AKA Flame), Chike Ojukwu, who created the beat, and co-writer Emanuel Lambert – who argued that Perry and her team had copied the “Joyful Noise” beat for “Dark Horse” without permission.
Gray’s attorneys reportedly had only to demonstrate that “Joyful Noise” had wide enough dissemination that it could have been heard by Perry and her co-authors, according to The Associated Press. They provided as evidence that it had millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and that the album it’s included on was nominated for a Grammy.
Jurors agreed, finding that the song was distributed widely enough that the “Dark Horse” writers may well have heard it.
Perry was not present when the verdict was read.
The case now goes to a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much Perry and other defendants owe for copyright infringement.