(NPR) — A copyright infringement ruling against Katy Perry came down to just four notes in her 2013 hit, “Dark Horse.”
Music and intellectual property experts say it sets a dangerous precedent — and could encourage more lawsuits over basic similarities. (@KQED)
The recent verdict against the pop star exposes how copyright law conflicts with musicians' real-life practices.
On July 29, a jury ruled in favor of Christian rapper Flame, a.k.a. Marcus Gray, who says that Perry and her collaborators Juicy J, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Cirkut and Sarah Hudson lifted the looped synth melody from Flame's 2008 song “Joyful Noise.” Perry, the co-writers and her label, Capitol, now have to pay out $2.8 million dollars in damages.
The decision prompted outcries from musicologists, intellectual property experts and music producers, who argue that it sets a dangerous precedent, encouraging self-censorship among composers and more lawsuits over basic similarities. Experts say that the case illuminates the discrepancies between the way copyright law is enforced and the real-life practices of pop music producers, who rely on derivative motifs and genre conventions to make hits.