Katy Perry Copies Song, Ordered to Pay 2.7 Million

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A Los Angeles court that heard the Katy Perry vs Christian rapper Flame court case last week has finally come to a financial decision, and it’s a big one – Flame was rewarded a total of $2.7 million by the courts for the copyright infringement.

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It’s far from the staggering $20 million that Flame’s lawyers wanted from Katy and her record company, but it’s certainly no small chunk of change. We’re sure Flame is calling up the best tax attorneys in LA so that he can see the most from this financial windfall.

Why Does Flame Get So Much?

Last week, Katy and Flame, real name Marcus Tyrone Gray, went to court over the allegation that Katy Perry and her record company stole a very basic 6 quarter note section from his song Joyful Noise, off the album Our World: Redeemed. According to Flame and his lawyers, Katy’s record label used this section in her hit song Dark Horse, which had a ton of airtime in 2013 and 2014.

Our World: Redeemed was a pretty popular album in the Christian music scene, being nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album, but the song in question only has about 3.5 million views on YouTube to date, compared to the 2.6 billion views that Dark Horse has received so far.

It’s important to note that when we wrote about this lawsuit earlier in the week and Katy’s ultimate loss, Joyful Noise had only 2.9 million views. Flame didn’t just get millions from this case; he also got a ton of fame.

If you want to read about the nitty-gritty details of the case, you can read our story here about all the details.

How the Money Breakdown Works

The pop superstar is only actually responsible for about $550,000 of the $2.78 million that Flame will receive. The rest of the money is coming from Capital Records, Katy’s long-time record label.

Flame’s lawyers argued that he should receive upwards of $20 million for the copyright infringement, citing that Dark Horse was a huge hit and made Perry a boatload of cash. Dark Horse spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and got her a Grammy Award nomination. Not to mention that she performed it during her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show.

Katy’s lawyers bit back at the suggestion, saying that the idea the song made the company or Katy herself $20 million was absurd. Her lawyers argued in court that $360,000 would be a more reasonable number.

The court threw around a ton of numbers, too. Apparently essential to Katy’s personal brand and the success of the song, they deducted some expenses from her profits, including more than $13k for a wardrobe stylist for a single night, $3k for a hairdo, over $800 on a single manicure.

In addition to her personal costs that affect her brand, and therefore her profit, expenses like manufacturing, marketing, and salaries all have to be factored into the final profit margins.

Not the First

This isn’t the first major copyright case in recent memory, and it certainly won’t be the last. With the ease that we can access new and different music and the constant bombardment of songs and beats we experience every day, it’s hard to know now if an idea is unique or you just don’t know where it came from.

In 2015 a jury awarded the estate of Marvin Gaye $5 million from Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams following a copyright case. In the case, Gaye’s estate said that the song Blurred Lines was way too close to Got to Give It Up for comfort and that they had taken large portions of the beat to make the hit track.