Katy Perry, Capitol Records and the singer’s “Dark Horse” collaborators have filed an appeal to the verdict that ruled against them in the plagiarism case bought by Marcus Gray, a.k.a. Flame. The July verdict found that Perry and her team had copied aspects of their 2013 hit from a 2008 Christian rap song and held them liable for $2.78 million in damages.
The appeal was filed in California on October 9th, according to Variety, and the defendants are asking for the courts to either overturn the original verdict or grant them a new trial. The appeal notes that “the legally unsupportable jury verdicts in this music copyright infringement case that are widely recognized within the music industry—and beyond—as a grave miscarriage of justice,” adding, “the erroneous verdicts in this case and the precedent established thereby present serious harm to music creators and to the music industry as a whole.”
The appeal contests that Gray’s song “Joyful Noise” received relatively low exposure, noting that most of its play occurred in Christian venues. “No reasonable factfinder could have concluded that ‘Joyful Noise’ was so well-known that it could be reasonably inferred that Defendants heard it, particularly in this digital age of content overload, with billions of videos and songs available to users with trillions of streams,” the appeal says. “Plaintiffs had no proof that any of the ‘Dark Horse’ writers searched for Christian rap on YouTube or Myspace, as was Plaintiffs’ burden.” The full appeal is available here.
In July, a nine-member federal jury in Los Angeles unanimously ruled that Perry’s 2013 hit single improperly copied “Joyful Noise.” Producers and songwriters Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Cirkut, Sarah Hudson and Juicy J were found liable alongside Perry, as were Capitol Records, Kobalt Publishing and Kasz Money. The plagiarism suit was brought by Gray and his two collaborators on “Joyful Noise,” Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwuhis. They first sued in 2014 alleging that Perry’s song stole a memorable beat from “Joyful Noise.”