A jury found that pop singer Katy Perry had copied a Christian rap song from 2009 for her 2013 hit "Dark Horse". The Associated Press reports that the decision was unanimous on Monday by a nine-member federal jury in a Los Angeles courtroom.
They came to the conclusion that the beat of the Christian song was originally enough to be copyrighted.
The verdict came five years after Christian rapper Marcus Gray, also known as Flame, and two co-authors filed a lawsuit against the pop star. Gray claimed Perry had stolen the beat and instrumental line from his song "Joyful Noise" to create "Dark Horse". The main focus of the copyright infringement process was on the beat and not on the lyrics.
Gray's lawyers claimed it was possible that the defendants heard the song and provided evidence that it contained millions of pieces on YouTube and Spotify. Gray's album, which included the song "Joyful Noise," was nominated for a Grammy.
"They are trying to push Mr. Gray into an alley of gospel music that no one ever visits," plaintiff attorney Michael A. Kahn said during the final argument.
Perry's lawyer team argued that the song contains simple musical elements that should be accessible to anyone. "They try to own the basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone," said lawyer Christine Lepera during the final clashes on Thursday.
In their final verdict, the judges noted that all six songwriters and all four companies who had published and distributed the songs were liable. Songwriters include Perry and Sarah Hudson, who only worked on the lyrics, and Juicy J, who wrote only his guest verse. Other defendants found guilty were Capitol Records and Perry's producers: Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut, who invented the beat of the song.
The case will now enter a criminal phase in which the jury decides how Perry and the other defendants violated copyright law.