Monday, March 30, 2020

Judge crushes $2.8m Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' verdict

By Emmanuel Legrand

Is the tide turning in copyright infringement cases in the US after the 'Stairway to Heaven' ruling?

  In the Katy Perry case related to her 2013 song 'Dark Horse', lawyers for the defendant have urged in a hearing US District Judge Christina A. Snyder in California to upend the verdict which found Perry guilty of copyright infringement and have been heard. A jury awarded $2.8 million to rapper Marcus Gray who claimed 'Dark Horse' infringed his song 'Joyful Noise'.

  In her ruling, Judge Snyder said that 'Joyful Noise” was not distinctive enough to be protected by copyright. "It is undisputed in this case, even viewing the evidence in the light most favourable to plaintiffs, that the signature elements of the 8-note ostinato in 'Joyful Noise'... is not a particularly unique or rare combination, even in its deployment as an ostinato: prior compositions, including prior works composed by the parties, as well as what all agree is a separate non-infringing ostinato in 'Dark Horse,' all contain similar elements."

Plans to restore the verdict

  The judge added: "Because the sole musical phrase that plaintiffs claim infringement upon is not protectable expression, the extrinsic test is not satisfied, and plaintiffs' infringement claim — even with the evidence construed in plaintiffs' favour — fails as a matter of law."

  Plaintiffs plan to appeal. Speaking to AP, Gray’s attorney Michael A. Kahn said: “We believe the jury was right and will do our best to restore their verdict on appeal.”

  Meanwhile, a Manhattan federal judge presiding the case involving Ed Sheeran, accused of copying Marvin Gaye's song 'Let's Get It On' with his song 'Thinking Out Loud', is expected to bar jurors from listening to Gaye's recorded version of the song to determine if Sheeran infringed the song.

Ben Sisario wrote in The New York Times 'The ‘Blurred Lines’ Case Scared Songwriters.' Decisions in copyright cases involving Led Zeppelin and Katy Perry suggest the open season on lawsuits could be coming to a close.

> And Stephen Carlisle analysed the Stairway to Heaven ruling in his blog 'The 9th Circuit Court Made It Harder To Sue' after its recent ruling on Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven'.

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