One of the most insane plagiarism accusations we’ve seen is the accusation that Katy Perry ripped off a rapper known as Flame for his hit “Dark Horse.” Let’s go back to the claim.
Rapper, Flame (real name: Marcus Gray), claims there’s an eight-note keyboard figure in ‘Dark Horse’ that was taken straight from his 2008 track. not act the same notes. This is another note played similarly. You can hear the disparity in this mashup.
And let’s not forget the 1985 one from The Art of Noise.
Back to the trial. Gray convinced a California jury that plagiarism had occurred and won a judgment of US$2.8 million. But then the judge reversed the decision, saying Gray’s team failed on issues of law. Those eight notes are simply not enough to qualify for copyright protection.
Then Gray filed an appeal stating that “the district court incorrectly asserted that ‘a pitch sequence … is not entitled to copyright protection.’ misunderstood that a sequence of pitches is a technical term for a sequence of musical notes, i.e. a melody.Copyright most certainly protects the original melodies and especially the distinctive eight melodies notes that repeat throughout a song.
This happened despite musicologists coming to Katy’s defense.
The whole ordeal is finally over with the correct verdict rendered by the Ninth Circuit Court. I quote CMU:
“Yesterday, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Katy Perry in the big old ‘Dark Horse’ song theft case. The musical elements that Perry’s hit has in common with earlier track “Joyful Noise” were “commonplace” and therefore not copyrighted in isolation, the judges concluded. The ruling confirms that the U.S. Court of Appeals, where many song theft lawsuits end up, remains cautious about overextending copyright protections in ways that could hamper the songwriting process of songs.
If Gray wants to challenge that, the next step is the Supreme Court. We’ll see.