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Katy Perry Wins Appeal in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit for ‘Dark Horse’



Katy Perry has won her copyright lawsuit against Christian rapper Marcus Gray in the "Dark Horse" case.


Gray, known by the stage name Flame, sued Perry in 2014, claiming her song "Dark Horse" was based on his song "Joyful Noise." In 2019, a Los Angeles jury found Perry liable for infringement, but a year later, a judge ruled that Perry's eight-note "ostinato" lacked the "quantum of originality" necessary to warrant copyright protection.


Grey appealed the decision in October 2020, arguing against the use of databases of melodies to determine instances of similarity in previous works and pointing out the incriminating similarity of the songs' timbre. On March 10, 2022, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s overturning the initial jury verdict.


Perry's victory in 2020 was a rare instance in which a court overturned a jury verdict in a copyright infringement case. In the same year, Led Zeppelin defeated plaintiff Michael Skidmore in a factually similar suit over "Stairway to Heaven."