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St. Louis christian rapper wins copyright lawsuit against mega star Katy Perry

Flame, who's real name is Marcus Gray, won his claims that Katy Perry's song "Dark Horse" copied the underlying beat of his song "Joyful Noise" that was released five years prior

July 31, 2019 - 8:23 am

LOS ANGELES (AP/KMOX) - When a nine-member jury in Los Angeles voted unanimously against singer Katy Perry in a copyright infrigement case, it was lawyers from St. Louis firm, Capes Soko on the winning side. 

Christian rapper who goes by Flame, but his real name is Marcus Gray, had lawyers Michael Kahn, Lauren Cohen and Jonathon Jones on his side to convince the jury, Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" copied the underlying beat of his 2008 song "Joyful Noise." 

Gray and his co-authors sued Perry several years ago. Perry and her co-authors claim to have not heard the song in question before the lawsuit and say that the beat in question is a simple "building block" of music.

Next up is the penalty phase, which will determine how much Perry and her co-authors owe the defendants.

Take a listen to both songs for yourself: 

Most of the dispute will center on the $31 million Capitol Records received from the song. The label contends that after factoring in costs, its profit was a mere $630,000.

Perry's lawyers say her "Dark Horse" earnings amounted to $3.2 million, minus $800,000 in costs.

"I don't want to give away any spoilers here, but some of the costs, get ready to roll your eyes," said attorney Michael Kahn, who represents "Joyful Noise" artist Marcus Gray.

Capitol Records defense attorney Aaron Wais said during opening statements that the old adage about spending money to make money is true with songs such as "Dark Horse."

"What makes a Katy Perry song profitable? Katy Perry," Wais said.

Testimony about Capitol Records' costs in creating and promoting "Dark Horse" will begin Wednesday.

On Monday, a jury returned a unanimous verdict that found the pop hit copied elements of "Joyful Noise," a song Gray released under the stage name Flame.

"Dark Horse," a hybrid of pop, trap and hip-hop sounds that was the third single of Perry's 2013 album "Prism," spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2014. It earned Perry a Grammy Award nomination and was part of her 2015 Super Bowl halftime performance.

While copyright infringement claims are common in music, they rarely result in such losses for high-profile artists.

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