Katy Perry Wins Appeal Over ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Lawsuit

The copyright case focused on Katy Perry’s song ‘Dark Horse,’ from the pop star’s 2013 album ‘Prism.

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Katy Perry won an appeal over a long-running copyright-infringement lawsuit, affirming that the musician and her record label don’t have to pay $2.8 million in damages.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2014, alleged that Ms. Perry’s song “Dark Horse” copied the repeated instrumentals in “Joyful Noise,” a song by Christian hip-hop artist Flame, whose given name is Marcus Gray. A jury awarded Mr. Gray and the song’s two other writers $2.8 million in damages, but a district court later voided that award. Mr. Gray appealed in 2020.

On Thursday, judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed that Ms. Perry and the other defendants didn’t have to pay the damages because there wasn’t sufficient evidence that “Joyful Noise” and “Dark Horse” are “extrinsically similar works.”

Michael Kahn, an attorney for Mr. Gray, said Friday that they were considering their options. “We are disappointed by the Court’s rejection of the unanimous verdict of a properly instructed jury,” he said in a statement.

An attorney for Ms. Perry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Joyful Noise” was released in 2008, five years before “Dark Horse,” which was on Ms. Perry’s 2013 album “Prism.” The song by Ms. Perry was a hit, landing on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Several major musical acts have been sued recently over copyright infringement, including Dua Lipa. The pop star was sued last week by two separate acts in two different lawsuits over the same song, “Levitating.”

Christopher Buccafusco, a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York, said lawsuits between little-known artists and high-profile stars are becoming more common, partly because music is easier to find and fans can alert artists of similarities.

There is little to lose for lesser-known artists, said Mr. Buccafusco, even if they don’t win a sum. The publicity around a lawsuit can drum up streams for their songs, he said.