Katy Perry cleared of plagiarising 'Dark Horse' by judge

Albertina Lloyd
·Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
·2-min read
FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2020, file photo, Katy Perry performs before the start of the Women's T20 World Cup cricket final match between Australia and India in Melbourne. A federal judge has given Perry a major victory in the dispute over her song “Dark Horse,” overturning a jury's verdict that found the pop superstar and her collaborators copied the 2013 hit “Dark Horse,” from a 2009 song by Christian rapper Marcus Gray. (AP Photo/Asanka Ratnayake, File)
Katy Perry has won her legal battle over claims she copied her hit 'Dark Horse' from a Christian rap song. (AP)

Katy Perry has won a reversal over the ruling that she copied a Christian rap song for her hit Dark Horse.

In July last year a jury decided unanimously that the singer’s 2013 hit improperly copied a 2009 track Joyful Noise, by Flame.

Now US district judge Christina A Snyder has ruled the eight-rift sequence of notes was "not a particularly unique or rare combination".

Read more: Katy Perry 'has blood on her hands' claims nun in legal battle with singer

The judge’s decision means Perry and her production team no longer owe Flame $2.8m (£2.3m) in damages.

Perry's lawyer Christine Lepera called the verdict: "An important victory for music creators and the music industry".

Judge Snyder said: "A relatively common eight-note combination of unprotected elements that happens to be played in a timbre common to a particular genre of music cannot be so original as to warrant copyright protection.”

However the judges stated that if an appeals court disagreed with her ruling, she would conditionally grant a new trial.

Flame's lawyer, Michael A Kahn, said: "When the jurors returned a unanimous verdict of infringement, I cautioned my clients that we had only finished Round 11 of a 15-round match and that the next round would take place in the court of appeals.

"We believe the jury was right and will do our best to restore their verdict on appeal.”

Read more: Katy Perry expecting first baby with fiance Orlando Bloom

Earlier this month Led Zeppelin won their appeal to reinstate a jury verdict that it did not steal the opening guitar riff for Stairway to Heaven.

FILE--In this March 5, 1998, file photo, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, left, performs with guitarist Jimmy Page during their concert in Istanbul. A U.S. appeals court on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, ordered a new trial in a lawsuit accusing Led Zeppelin of copying an obscure 1960s instrumental for the intro to its classic 1971 rock anthem "Stairway to Heaven."  (AP Photo/Murad Sezer, File)
Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page were embroiled in a long legal battle over 'Stairway to Heaven'. (AP)

The band had been accused of plagiarising Taurus - an instrumental written by Spirit guitarist Randy California - who died in 1997. The track was originally released in 1968, three years before Stairway To Heaven and California - real name was Randy Wolfe - declined to pursue legal action during his lifetime.

In 2018 Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost their long-running lawsuit with the Marvin Gaye estate, after it was ruled their his Blurred Lines was copied from Gaye’s 1977 hit Got to Give It Up.

And Ed Sheeran is also locked in a legal battle with the family of the late singer amid claims his 2014 hit Thinking Out Loud copied several parts of Gaye’s classic Let’s Get It On.

The latest result in the Stairway To Heaven case has been cited as a landmark in such music legal battles.