Katy Perry Sued by Gospel Rapper Over 'Dark Horse'

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 03, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Pop star Katy Perry is being sued in federal court for allegedly stealing the song "Dark Horse" from a Christian rapper. But that's not all the suit accuses her of doing.

The complaint, filed this week in St. Louis by Grammy-nominated gospel rapper Flame and three other songwriters, claims that the religious message of their 2008 song "Joyful Noise" has been irreparably tarnished "by its association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music" in Perry's 2013 song "Dark Horse."

Katy Perry, a pagan witch magician?

Different Songs, Same Music?

The rapper's lawsuit claims that "by any measure, the 'Dark Horse' song... constitutes an infringement of Plaintiffs' copyright." Here are the two songs in question:

How similar do they sound to you?

The lawsuit seeks relief under the Copyright Act, the federal rules protecting the rights of creators of original works to perform, reproduce, distribute, or license those works to others.

Flame and his co-writers admit they did not register their copyright until last month. But according to the U.S. Copyright office, you don't necessarily need to register a copyright in order to receive copyright protection; a copyright can exist from the moment a work is created. However, a copyright must be registered before any infringement lawsuit is brought.

Proving Infringement

The owner of a copyright can bring suit to protect his work from infringement, but proving infringement may be difficult.

Generally, a plaintiff must show that the alleged infringer had access to the copyrighted work and that the defendant's work is "substantially similar" to the copyrighted work.

In their lawsuit, Flame and the his three co-writers are demanding a permanent injunction against the sale, performance and distribution of "Dark Horse" along with damages, court costs, and all of Katy Perry's profits from the song.

Katy Perry's camp has yet to comment.

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