Copyright lawsuit shakes up music community

Posted at 9:09 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 22:09:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A ruling that pop star Katy Perry stole part of a christian rap song in her hit "Dark Horse" has sent shock waves through the music community.

Entertainment attorney Norman Gillis says the ruling was unexpected because this case focused on just a beat in the song - roughly six notes - not the lyrics.

It has served as a reminder to local artists to be careful.

In this case, a 12-person jury unanimously agreed the song "Dark Horse" copied a 2009 Christian rap song called "Joyful Noise."

During the trial, Katy Perry and the songs co-authors testified that they had never heard of the song before. But, jurors decided that didn't matter because the song was distributed widely enough that they could have heard it.

Nashville entertainment attorney Norman Gillis says from the moment someone creates something, they own it.

To avoid running into legal problems, artists need to take extra steps to verify lyrics and music they are recording.

"The takeaway is you have to be very careful and maybe after you record the song, get the opinion of people who study popular music or something," said Gillis.

The case now goes to a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much Katy Perry and other defendants owe for copyright infringement.