Katy Perry is getting in trouble for stealing from music made for the Lord. A jury on Monday found that the pop idol’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” improperly copied a 2009 Christian rap song. Monday’s decision, setting up arguments over how much the singer and other defendants will owe, was returned by a nine-member federal jury in a Los Angeles courtroom.
It came five years after Marcus Gray and two co-authors first sued alleging “Dark Horse” stole from “Joyful Noise,” a song Gray released under the stage name Flame. The case now goes to a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much the plaintiffs are owed for copyright infringement.“ Dark Horse,” a hybrid of pop, trap and hip-hop sounds that was the third single of Perry’s 2013 album “Prism,” spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2014, and earned Perry a Grammy nomination.
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...but this has happened before
George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” Copyright Case via Performing Songwriter by Lydia Hutchinson
Harrison’s debut single blanketed the airwaves, a struggling New York publisher, Bright Tunes Music, must’ve heard divine intervention in the melody of “My Sweet Lord.” It was identical to a chestnut in their dusty catalog, “He’s So Fine.” On Feb. 10, 1971, as Harrison’s hit was idling down from four weeks at No. 1, Bright Tunes filed a copyright infringement suit.
The older song, written by Ronnie Mack, had been a chart-topper in 1963 for the Chiffons. That same year, the Beatles were routinely singing the praises of such American R&B tunes, both in interviews with the British press and in the set lists of their live show. There was no question of access to the previous work, as Harrison freely admitted during his trial.
The case finally came to trial in February 1976. Side by side, the two songs were painstakingly analyzed. “The plaintiff had huge charts made up with the three notes from Motif A and the four or five notes from Motif B drawn on them,” Harrison recalled. “And they talked about these for about three days, to the point where I started to believe that maybe theydidown those notes.”
In the end, Harrison was found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” and had to pay $1,599,987 of the earnings from “My Sweet Lord” to Bright Tunes (songwriter Ronnie Mack had died in 1963, shortly after “He’s So Fine” charted). “I’ve never had any money from the song,” Harrison later recalled. “It’s always been in escrow. As far as I’m concerned, the effect the song has had far exceeds any bitching between copyright people and their greed and jealousy.”
The complete story here > George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” Copyright Case