A federal appeals court on Tuesday (January 11). Katy Perry than 2013 chart-topper “Dark Horse,” with one judge even saying he had to listen to it multiple times just to identify “purposeful similarities” with an earlier song.
During an hour-long hearing, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit cast doubt on allegations by a rapper named Flame that Perry’s hit infringed the song’s copyright. His previous was titled “Joyful Noise”.
The case made headlines in 2019 when Perry was attacked a judgment of 2.8 million dollars, but a federal judge later overturned that ruling on the grounds that the short excerpt allegedly copied by Perry was too basic for copyright protection.
Flame is now asking Track 9 to reverse that ruling, but at Tuesday’s hearing, the panel did not appear to be particularly inclined to do so. At one point, Judge Richard Clifton wondered why the court should expand the “monopoly” that might restrict “future composers”.
“Why does the Copyright Act protect it?” Judge Clifton asked, referring to the short musical phrase allegedly copied by Perry. “Why are you defending that short, maybe-not-all-but-special phrase?”
Flame, whose real name is Marcus Grey, sued Perry in July 2014, claiming that she raised an “ostinato” key – a sequence of short notes repeated throughout a song – from his “Joyful Noise” and used it prominently in “Dark Horse. ” And the case initially went well, leading to a $2.8 million infringement judgment against Perry in July 2019.
But in March 2020, Judge Christina A. Snyder overturned the ruling against Perry. Quote a high judgment on “Stairway To Heaven” stating that the basic musical “building blocks” do not comply with copyright law, the judge ruled that Flame’s ostinato – consisting of only eight notes – was too simple and universal to be protected. guard.
Looking to overturn that ruling on Tuesday is an attorney Michael A. Kahn of the law firm Capes Sokol, who represent Flame. He told the court that Judge Snyder should not interfere with the jury’s decision, arguing that they had seen detailed evidence and heard expert testimony before reaching a verdict in Flame’s favor.
But members of the panel refused, arguing that the trial judge had done nothing wrong in declaring charges against Perry. Judge Milan Smith pointed out that judges themselves clearly have the power to apply so-called external checks to filter out elements that cannot be protected from copyright lawsuits.
“It seems to me that case law says that we as judges are fully authorized and empowered and really need to do the external testing ourselves,” the judge said.
That argument is Christine Lepera, a consultant for Perry’s Capitol Records. She argued that Judge Snyder “did the absolutely right thing” by analyzing the case and overturning the verdict. She said the judge “corrected a mistake” made by a jury who was probably “not aware of how this works.”
“It’s imperative to allow that so that these building blocks are not monopolized,” said Lepera, an attorney at law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. “That’s the danger here.”
Near the end of the hearing, Judge Clifton paused during the proceedings to once again cast doubt on the case against Perry. He said it took him several rehearsals before he was able to “find out exactly what the purported similarities were.”
“After listening to the first pairing, I really had to focus on figuring out which little short segments fit the same way,” says Clifton. “It took enough work for me to begin to wonder: how exactly did that thing become a protectable thing?”
Lawyer Vincent H. Chieffo of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, representing Perry, also briefly participated in the arguments. But most of the defense cases are handled by Lepera, who represents Capitol Records, producer Dr. Luke, and several other individuals and companies involved in the making of “Dark Horse.”
After the hearing, the panel will weigh the merits of the case and issue a ruling at some point in the coming months.
https://www.billboard.com/pro/katy-perry-dark-horse-copyright-appeals-court/ Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Lawsuit Faces Skeptical Court of Appeal – Billboard