Katy Perry ordered to pay £453k to Christian rapper in 'Dark Horse' copyright lawsuit

Amy West
Katy Perry must pay $550,000 of her own earnings to Christian rapper Flame after a jury decided that she'd copied one of his songs to make hit track 'Dark Horse (YouTube)

Katy Perry has been ordered to pay $550,000 (£453,436) of her earnings to Gospel rapper Marcus Gray, after a jury decided that one of her most popular tracks copied an original song of his.

Gray - who goes by the stage name Flame - first challenged the pop star and her record label five years ago. He sought just less than $20million (£16.4m) in his most recent lawsuit, on the basis that the instrumental riff from his Christian single ‘Joyful Noise’ is used in 45% of Perry’s 2013 single ‘Dark Horse.’

The 37-year-old argued that that should allow him to claim 45% of the profits of ‘Prism,’ the album in which the song appears on.

It is estimated that Perry made around $2.4 million (£1.9m) from the hit. Gray’s lawyer, Michael A. Kahn, argued the track grossed around $41 million (£33.8m).

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"These defendants have made millions and millions of dollars from their infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright," Kahn said in court on Thursday 1 August.

"A CD is a CD, you can’t break it into pieces. Every album had an infringing song. And not just any song, but the most popular song on the album."

In total, Perry, her collaborators and her label, Capitol Records, are set to pay Gray $2.78 million (£2.2m).

"The writers of ‘Dark Horse’ consider this a travesty of justice," Perry’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, explained yesterday, before adding that they intend to contest the verdict.

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"They’re not seeking fairness," attorney Aaron M. Wais added. "They’re seeking to obtain as much money as possible."

During the hearing, Wais urged the jury to consider why music lovers purchase Perry’s songs, suggesting that it’s her recognisable name that drives sales rather than the quality of music necessarily.

Perry's defence argued that the track did so well because of her celebrity rather than certain elements of the song itself (Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Capitol Records )

"The reason why people buy a Katy Perry album, buy a Katy Perry song, is because it’s Katy Perry," Wais stated. "If you replaced her with an anonymous artist, do you really think it would sell as well?"

Dark Horse’ was co-written by Perry, American rapper Juicy J, Lukasz Gottwald, Sarah Hudson, Max Martin, Henry Walter.

All of them claimed to have never heard of Gray before he and co-writers Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu sued in 2014.