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Copyright Infringement Lawsuit: Jury Rules that Pop Star Katy Perry “Copied” Hit Song


According to reporting from the Associated Press, a jury based in Southern California has ruled in favor of a songwriter named Marcus Gray and two of his co-authors in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Notably, this legal claim was brought against the music industry giant Capitol Records, pop star Katy Perry, and several other defendants.

In response to the decision, several copyright law experts noted that this could be an important decision — it could potentially precipitate the filing of more copyright infringement lawsuits in the music industry. Here, our Miami, FL copyright litigation attorneys explain how the jury reached its decision in this case.

Verdict: Beat and Instrumental Line is “Substantially Similar” 

The songs that are under review in this case are Katy Perry’s 2013 hit ‘Dark Horse’ and an earlier Christian rap song called ‘Joyful Noise’. The lyrics of the two songs were not at issue in this copyright infringement lawsuit. Instead, the claimed focused solely on the beat and instrumental line of the respective songs. The plaintiffs alleged that the beat in Katy Perry’s Dark Horse was “substantially similar” to the beat in Joyful Noise.

In defending the copyright infringement claim, Capitol Records brought in an expert witness that argued that the beat composition was about as complex as is the well-known children’s song ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. In other words, the expert witness was supporting the defense that the underlying beat and instrumental line was too simplistic to warrant copyright protection in the first place.

However, surprising some observers, the Los Angeles, CA jury did not find this defense compelling. The jury unanimously ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. They found all of the implicated defendants, including Capitol Records and Katy Perry, liable for copyright infringement.

Copyright Infringement Damages are Now Being Determined 

As the jury determined that copyright infringement has occurred, this case is now moving on to the issue of damages. In early August, the court is scheduled to hear arguments in regards to what type of penalties will be imposed. Damages will be based on a number of different factors, including the amount of profits that the record company and artist made from the song.

Some reports indicate that the record label brought in more than $12 million in revenue from the song. However, Capitol Records argues that it spent more than $11 million producing the work and promoting the song. Though, there have been significant disputes over those calculations. The copyright damages award, in part, is likely to depend on exactly how much the defendants actually made off of this song.

Discuss Your Case With a Miami, FL Copyright Lawyer Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami copyright litigation attorneys are committed to offering solutions-oriented legal representation to individuals and companies. If you have questions or concerns about a copyright case, we are here to help. For a strictly confidential consultation, please call us today. With offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we handle copyright litigation throughout Florida.




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