Katy Perry 'Dark Horse' Lawsuit: Judge Reverses $2.8 Million Copyright Verdict Against Singer

The decision reverses a jury verdict from last year

A California federal judge overturned a $2.8 million decision Tuesday, handing Katy Perry a win in her copyright trial over her hit 2013 song “Dark Horse.”

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder ruled that Perry’s song did not copy Marcus Gray’s Christian song “Joyful Noise” as the section of the song in question was not specific enough to be protected under copyright law.

“The signature elements of the eight-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’ is not a particularly unique or rare combination,” the judge said, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Katy Perry
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In July, a nine-member federal jury previously found that Perry’s hit track copied the Christian song, released under Gray’s stage name, Flame. That decision came five years after Gray and two co-authors first sued.

While Perry had argued that she had never heard of the song or its co-writers, Emmanuel Lambert Jr., a.k.a. Da Truth, who was one of the co-writers of “Joyful Noise,” testified that their song was widely available on streaming services, according to Variety.

Perry’s camp — consisting of producers Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), Cirkut (Henry Walter), and Max Martin (Karl Sandberg); rapper Juicy J (Jordan Houston); and lyricist Sarah Hudson — was ordered to pay $2.78 million in damages, although her record label Capitol Record was set to foot the majority of the bill.

Gray’s attorneys argued that the beat and instrumentals in his song are significantly like what is heard through almost half of “Dark Horse.”

They also claimed that Perry’s song, which was a single on her Prism album and garnered her a Grammy nomination, netted the artist, 35, millions of dollars in profits.

Meanwhile, Perry’s attorneys claimed that substantial fees went into the song’s production and marketing, and therefore Gray’s numbers were wildly overstated.

Perry’s attorney, Christine Lapera, also stated in court that Gray cannot claim infringement as Perry’s song featured widely used elements of music and that a decision against the songstress would set negative precedents for music and artists across the board.

Many music and legal experts have agreed with Lepera, saying that it’s unfair to block an artist from using what are essentially fundamental parts of music.

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