Katy Perry gave her testimony in court on July 18, 2018, the first day of the trial for the copyright infringement lawsuit filed against her by Christian rapper Marcus Gray, aka Flame.
Gray and his co-plaintiffs Emanuel Lambert, Lecrae Moore and Chike Ojukwu sued Katy Perry and co-creator, Dr. Luke since 2014 for allegedly ripping off their Christian song called “Joyful Noise” featuring Lecrae. They claimed that Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J, illegally used the underlying beat of “Joyful Noise” and that the songs have identical sounding beats.
In their complaint, Gray and his team said that Katy Perry and Dr. Luke “never sought or obtained permission” from them to use the ‘Joyful Noise’ song in creating “Dark Horse.” The defendants countered that they never heard of Gray nor of his song “Joyful Noise”.
According to Billboard, Katy Perry told the court of her prior ignorance of “Joyful Noise”. When cross-examined, Katy said that she did not focus on listening to Christian music and that she mostly listened to secular music since the early part of her career up to the present day.
Perry also described to the court as to how “Dark Horse” was created. She clarified an article about Dr. Luke wherein she mentioned “YouTubing” during “Dark Horse” studio sessions. She said that she only watched videos of cats, not search for potential beats to use in songs. Katy Perry is known among her fans as a cat lover, having two cats named Kitty Purry and Monkey.
Watch a side by side comparison of “Dark Horse” by Kate Perry and “Joyful Noise” by Flame (Gray):
Gray’s attorney, Michael Kahn, said that the plaintiffs need not prove that the defendants had “direct access” to “Joyful Noise”, but that access was possible. He added that “innocent infringement” would likely be good enough for a favorable ruling for Gray and company.
Kahn noted that “Joyful Noise” is very much accessible on YouTube, MySpace, and in retail outlets. He added that the song made it to Billboard charts, had various award nominations including a Grammy nomination for its album, aside from Gray’s numerous live performances of the song.
Katy Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera countered that there’s no evidence of widespread distribution of “Joyful Noise” and that with its obscurity and with the massive amount of music to stream online, it was unlikely that her clients would have heard of it.
Lepera also argued that the underlying beat claimed by Gray et al, is too simple for a copyright claim. She said, “You can’t copyright common building blocks of music.”
Earlier on in the trial, Katy Perry provided a light moment for everyone as she volunteered to perform live when her lawyers initially had technical difficulties in playing “Dark Horse” inside the courtroom.
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