As I said earlier this week, I’m not a closet Katy Perry fan. What interests me about this story is that something that almost never happens has happened. A pop star with all the money and lawyers she could want has lost a court battle to a relatively unknown artist (and his co-writers) who convinced a jury his music was stolen for her hit song. Earlier this week, a jury decided that all six of Perry’s songwriters plus the companies that distributed her music were liable. The trial then moved to a penalty phase which concluded rather quickly:
Katy Perry and her collaborators at her record label have to pay $2.78 million after a federal jury found the pop star copied one of her hit songs…
The amount fell well short of the nearly $20 million sought by attorneys for Gray and the two co-writers of “Joyful Noise” — Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu — but they said they were pleased…
Perry herself was hit for just over $550,000, with Capitol Records responsible for the biggest part of the award — $1.2 million. Defense attorneys had argued for an overall award of about $360,000.
Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera, said they plan to vigorously fight the decision.
So expect some sort of appeal and maybe the amount will get knocked down or maybe the entire decision will be overturned. Still, for this moment it looks bad for Perry and the small army of people who prop up her career.
Of course, whether you think Perry deserves this will depend on whether you think she, or more likely her producers, actually stole part of someone else’s song. The jury didn’t prove that did happen on that it could have happened based on the popularity of the rap song in the Christian market around the time Perry’s tune was being written.
As for the similarity between the two tracks, that’s definitely there, though musicologists who testified in Perry’s defense claimed any overlap was attributable to people playing with the same basic building blocks of music. Maybe so but they really do sound a lot alike. If you want, you also click back and hear each song separately. Here’s the video I posted earlier which slows down the rap tune a bit so it matches the tempo of Perry’s song exactly. They blend really well: