Mainstream pop culture has long been known to take from the artistic contributions of the Black community, then repurposing that art as their own. Much of history will show the vast majority of this pilfering resulted in massive financial gain that never trickled down to the originators of the music, photo, art, design, writing, and on and on. But, occasionally, one story emerges that exhibits creators actually benefiting from their creation; even if by force.
As reported by Black Enterprise, pop star, Katy Perry, her team and record label were ordered to pay $2.78 million to gospel rapper, Marcus “Flame” Gray. Gray asserted that Perry’s 2013 Grammy nominated hit, “Dark Horse,” illegally copied his 2009 song, “Joyful Noise.” He filed a $20 million lawsuit in 2014, arguing that they took his song’s opening chords and electrifying beat. Attorneys on both side fought it out for 5 years. Katy Perry herself took the stand. Her team claimed the beats were “commonplace.” Though others within the music industry agreed, the court found Perry, co-writer Sarah Hudson, the song’s producers, and Capitol Records liable for copyright infringement and determined that Gray was owed 22.5% of the more than $41 million in profits “Dark Horse” made.
Following the ruling, Marcus Gray’s lawyer released a statement praising the verdict. “Our clients filed this lawsuit five years ago seeking justice and fair compensation for the unauthorized taking of their valuable creation. It has been a long and arduous path to this day, but they are quite pleased to have received the justice they sought.”
While “Flame” may be celebrating his victory, he may not see that money for a while as Perry’s lawyers continue to fight the verdict. Check out the song in question below.