Pop artist Katy Perry has appealed a court’s decision, which held the singer liable for $2.78 million for plagiarizing elements of “Dark Horse,” from a 2008 Christian rap song. Perry, her label and her collaborators for the song are asking the California courts to either grant the defendants a new trial or overturn the earlier decision.
“The legally unsupportable jury verdicts in this music copyright infringement case that are widely recognized within the music industry — and beyond — as a grave miscarriage of justice,” court documents filed on October 9th from the defendants explain. “…The erroneous verdicts in this case and the precedent established thereby present serious harm to music creators and to the music industry as a whole.”
Defendants claim that “Joyful Noise,” by Michael Gray, the track which was allegedly plagiarized by Perry was too obscure, and suggested that it was only played in religious venues. They further allege that the song may never have even sold an official copy, stating: “Plaintiffs did not offer proof of one single digital or brick – and – mortar sale of ‘Joyful Noise’ or (the album) ‘Our World Redeemed‘ and admitted that they have no such evidence.”
During the original trial Gray’s attorneys pointed out that the song had millions of streams on SoundCloud, and that it was even a part of a Grammy nominated album. The jury eventually agreed with Gray, and stated that bumping beat and riff at the center of “Joyful Noise” were original enough to be copyrighted.
The defendats however, continued their assertion by stating:
“No reasonable factfinder could have concluded that ‘Joyful Noise’ was so well-known that it could be reasonably inferred that Defendants heard it, particularly in this digital age of content overload, with billions of videos and songs available to users with trillions of streams. … The few million views of ‘Joyful Noise’ on the Internet presented by Plaintiffs, over a period of five years, equals an undisputed ‘drop in the bucket’ in modern day view count statistics — and can hardly constitute widespread dissemination… Plaintiffs adduced no evidence of any sales and no documentary evidence of any radio or television play, or of actual performances of ‘Joyful Noise.’ … Plaintiffs had no proof that any of the ‘Dark Horse’ writers searched for Christian rap on YouTube or Myspace, as was Plaintiffs’ burden.”
This isn’t the only prominent plagiarism case affecting a pop star, earlier this year Lady Gaga was sued by a SoundCloud artist for allegedly plagiarizing the Academy-Award winning song “Shallow.”