Five years after the initial lawsuit began, Marcus Gray, stage name ‘Flame’, and two co-authors would be feeling vindicated as the nine member federal jury ruled that ‘Dark Horse’ released in 2013 by Katy Perry, copied substantially elements of their song ‘Joyful Noise’ which was released in 2008. Gray’s lawyers argued that the beat and instrumental line featured in Dark Horse were almost identical to that of Joyful Noise. Perry’s lawyer, Christine Lepera argued that the sections of song in question were simple music elements, in her closing arguments stated that “they’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone.”
This is not the first case of an artist being sued for copyright within the music industry. Countless lawsuits and allegations have been made over the years involving many famous stars. With this phenomenon apparently on the rise, is it a case of lazy song writing or do we need to change the definition of the copyright laws? When a jury sits down and makes a ruling in these cases they are based on sheet music as well as a ‘vibe’ of a song. Yet so many songs follow a similar chord progression. Comedy band Axis of Awesome most famously made people aware of this with the 4 chord song. Indeed music is as much about originality as it is taking something old and allowing for creative license to change it into something new. It is important that these laws exist to stop outright copying of songs but if the fundamental basics of music are going to lead to law suits for artists is it about time we applied some common sense to the matter and simply let it be?
Do the songs sound the same? Check out the video and decide for yourself.