Judge Reverses Christian Rapper’s $2.78 Million Judgment Against Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” Song
March 19, 2020
After a jury found Katy Perry committed copyright infringement against Christian rapper Flame last July, the judge in the case ruled that the pop singer wasn't guilty after all and will not have to cough up a $2.78 million judgment.
According to legal documents obtained by XXL, on Tuesday (March 17), the judge in the case of Marcus Gray a.k.a. Flame vs. Katy Perry vacated the jury's previous decision from 2019, which had agreed that Perry's "Dark Horse" copied elements of Flame's track "Joyful Noise." This means that Perry and her collaborators, Dr. Luke and Max Martin, do not have to pay up the hefty amount of money to Flame. Judge Christina A. Snyder concluded that if an appeals court disagrees with her ruling, then she would "conditionally grant a new trial."
“The court agrees that the uncontroverted evidence points to only one conclusion: that none of these individual elements are independently protectable," Judge Snyder wrote.
In his lawsuit, Flame asserted that Perry and her team of collaborators swiped an eight-note pattern, known as an ostinato, from Flame’s song "Joyful Noise" and used it for Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse." Flame claimed that his reputation as a Christian rapper was damaged by the “anti-Christian witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by ‘Dark Horse.’"
Back on July 29, 2019, the jury agreed with Flame's claim that Perry and her team copied the instrumental to “Joyful Noise” for “Dark Horse.” They decided that Katy was liable for $550,000, the song’s producer Dr. Luke was responsible for $60,000 and songwriter Max Martin was ordered to pay $250,000.Then, on Aug. 1, 2019, the jury decided that 22.5 percent of the profits made from “Dark Horse” should be awarded to Flame as well as the other plaintiffs his co-writers—Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu—bringing the total to $2.78 million. However, thanks to the judge's recent ruling, Perry and her team will not have to pay up.