A federal judge has handed a big win to Katy Perry, overturning a copyright infringement verdict regarding her hit song “Dark Horse.”
Judge Christina A. Snyder issued a ruling on Tuesday vacating the jury’s verdict, finding that the short musical phrase at issue is not original enough to warrant copyright protection.
The jury had found last July that “Dark Horse” included an eight-note ostinato that was stolen from “Joyful Noise,” a song by the Christian rapper Flame. The jury awarded $2.8 million in damages.
Snyder found that the jury’s verdict was not supported by the weight of the evidence in the case.
“It is undisputed in this case,” Snyder wrote, “that the signature elements of the 8-note ostinato in ‘Joyful Noise’… is not a particularly unique or rare combination.”
Snyder drew on the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness, musicologist Todd Decker, in coming to her conclusion that the jury got it wrong.
“A relatively common 8-note combination of unprotected elements that happens to be played in a timbre common to a particular genre of music cannot be so original as to warrant copyright protection,” she wrote.
. . . .
The decision is the second piece of good news in as many weeks for music labels and major acts, which have felt besieged by frivolous copyright litigation over the last few years. Last Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict finding that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” did not infringe on an earlier song by the band Spirit.
Link to the rest at Variety
Here’s an earlier video, created prior to yesterday’s reversal of the jury verdict as described in the OP.