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Writers of ‘Dark Horse’ Call Katy Perry Copyright Verdict a ‘Travesty of Justice’

A lawyer representing the songwriters of Perry's hit released a statement to Billboard in which they deny any infringement and say there was "no access to substantial similarity."

The songwriters behind Katy Perry‘s “Dark Horse” have issued a statement in the wake of a jury’s finding that the song infringed on the copyright of Flame‘s (Marcus Gray) Christian single “Joyful Noise,” resulting in a call for $2.78 million in damages.

The statement shared with Billboard on Monday morning (Aug. 5) by attorney Christine Lepera on behalf of Perry’s “Dark Horse” co-writers — rapper Juicy J (born Jordan Houston), Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), Max Martin (Karl Sandberg), Cirkut (Henry Walter) and lyricist Sarah Hudson — read: “The writers of ‘Dark Horse’ view the verdicts as a travesty of justice. There is no infringement. There was no access or substantial similarity.” 

In the July 29 verdict, jurors in the case determined damages after finding that Perry’s 2013 smash hit infringed on Flame’s 2008 song after attorneys for Gray had sought almost $20 million during the damages phase of the trial, in which they claimed that “Horse” brought in more than $31 million to Perry’s label, Capitol. The label countered that after production and promotion expenses, it brought in only $650,000 in profit from the song.


“The only thing in common is unprotectable expression — evenly spaced ‘C’ and ‘B’ notes — repeated,” the songwriters’ statement continued. “People including musicologists from all over are expressing their dismay over this. We will continue to fight at all appropriate levels to rectify the injustice.”

Gray’s attorneys claimed that the beat and instrumental tracks of “Joyful Noise” are significantly similar to Perry’s “Horse,” while Lepera argued in court that they were trying to “own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone,” fearing that a judgment against her clients could have a chilling effect on music creators.

Perry is on the hook for just over $550,000 in the case, while Capitol Records is responsible for the vast majority of the damages.