Katy Perry Wins Reversal in $2.8 Million “Dark Horse” Copyright Case Against Christian Rapper

A judge sided with Katy Perry and reversed the July 2019 verdict.

Katy Perry speaks to media on March 11, 2020

Image via Getty/Daniel Pockett

Katy Perry speaks to media on March 11, 2020

On Tuesday, a judge sided with Katy Perry and reversed a verdict originally claiming Perry's 2013 single "Dark Horse" ripped off a Christian rap song. 

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder ruled that Capitol Records and the creatives behind "Dark Horse" did not infringe on the Christian rap song "Joyful Noise" by Flame. This decision came after Snyder reviewed the finding of July 2019 trial. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Flame's record failed the "extrinsic test" which "requires that a copyright plaintiff identify concrete elements based on objective criteria that the works are similar." 

Flame and the creators of "Joyful Noise" claim the main riff of "Dark Horse" was stolen from their song, leading to the initial lawsuit. A jury found in July 2019 that the riffs in "Dark Horse" and "Joyful Noise" were too similar to be created by mere coincidence. As a result, Perry and her collaborators were ordered to pay nearly $2.8 million to Flame.

After the ruling, Perry filed an appeal. Throughout the appeal, Judge Snyder and musicologist Todd Decker felt that the original decision was made without Flame presenting the proper evidence. This led them to conclude that the riff was not sufficiently unique enough to support the plaintiffs' claims. By winning the appeal, the initial verdict and potential $2.8 million settlement were both thrown out by the court. 

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