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Katy Perry Scores Huge Win Over ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Battle

Katy PerryRB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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Katy Perry has one less thing to worry about today. A federal appeals court has declined to reinstate the $2.8 million verdict that a jury awarded Christian rapper Flame. Perry was sued in 2016 by the rapper who said the singer’s single “Dark Horse” plagiarized an eight-note riff from his track “Joyful Noise.”


The court threw out the unsupported verdict. The Ninth Circuit of Appeals told Flame that he failed to prove his case. The court also found that the rapper claimed an improper monopoly over basic building blocks used in music.

“Dark Horse” is one of three diamond singles in Perry’s music catalog. The singer was accused of using an underlying beat in the hit song the same way Flame used it on his 2009 song “Joyful Noise.” Perry claimed that she never heard the rapper’s song before and that the beat was formed using pre-existing material. Keeping the verdict standing would have allowed Flame to take ownership of a basic two-note pitch.

Flame was first awarded the $2.8 million from a jury back in July of 2019. Perry filed an appeal which later vacated the decision in March of 2020. The court’s vote came back as 3-0 in favor of the American Idol judge.


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Perry’s Copyright battle isn’t the first in pop music. Dua Lipa is currently in two lawsuits accusing her of plagiarizing the 2020 chart-topper “Levitating.” Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Bruno Mars have all been sued as well for their biggest songs.

With the new ruling, music insiders hope changes are coming to how someone can claim a copyright on a song.

Robin Thicke was also sued for his single “Blurred Lines” by Marvin Gaye’s estate. Three years later Thicke lost his case and was ordered to pay 7.8 million in damages. Thicke also had to pay half the royalties he made from the hit song to the estate as well.


Perry can now put this behind her and give all of her attention to Season 20 of American Idol as well as her Las Vegas residency.

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