Katy Perry 'Dark Horse' Infringement Damages Swell Beyond $2.79 Million

Back in July, Katy Perry — alongside Capitol Records, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Juicy J, Kobalt, and other partners — were saddled with a for infringing ‘Dark Horse’.  Turns out that was just part the story.

A closer reading the verdict reveals that Perry, Capitol Records, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Kobalt, and others were actually saddled with damages $2.789 million — plus possible accrued interest since the date infringement.  

Now, Perry’s attorneys are scrambling to nullify that part the ruling, and prevent damages from careening past the $3 — or even $4 — million mark.

Currently, paperwork is being filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District California to challenge the assessment ‘pre-judgment interest,’ as the court refers to the penalty tack-on.  The documents were shared with Digital Music News earlier this week.

In late July, a jury found substantial, willing infringement involving the 2008 Christian rap song, “Joyful Noise,” as performed by Flame (aka Marcus Gray).

The ruling was unanimous, despite testimony from multiple experts and musicologists that called the similarities ‘coincidental’ and involving ‘the basic building blocks music’.

The near-$3 million penalty fomented outrage among a number music industry executives, performers, and attorneys.  As we’ve analyzed, the two songs bear some similarity, though the musical elements in question are commonly-used melodies and rhythms.  Sensing a crisis ahead, many have openly protested the verdict, including Ed McPherson, who regarded the ‘Dark Horse’ verdict as a continuation the insanity started with ‘Blurred Lines’ (here’s our ).

But that outcry is little consolation to Perry’s legal team, which is now battling a brush-fire surging infringement penalties.  In a filing this week, Perry’s legal team attacked the ‘pre-judgment interest’ add-on as unnecessary, on numerous grounds.

For starters, attorneys for Katy Perry have claimed that the Plaintiffs caused serious delays in bringing the infringement action.  So why should the Defendants pay interest on that foot-dragging?   “In total, Plaintiffs caused a 28-month delay before finally filing their operative Complaint,” Perry’s attorneys stated.  “Despite Defendants vigorously litigating the claimed infringement, the case was timely brought to trial 32-months after Plaintiffs’ filed their Third Amended Complaint.”

The other counter-argument is that the initial penalty is quite high, and only loosely based on infringement damages.  “Certainly, the jury award in this case more than adequately compensates Plaintiffs for any infringement the jury may have found. By waiving any claim for an award actual damages attributable to the infringement, Plaintiffs conceded that the creation “Dark Horse” caused no damages,” the filing continues.

Translation: isn’t $2.789 million enough for you people?

Apparently not.  In a separate filing shared with DMN, specific tables benchmark interest rates were presented.  That suggests that the haggling has moved beyond the question whether ‘pre-judgment interest’ should be allowed, and into the territory how much pre-judgment interest should be calculated.

We’re expected a few more volleys here — and keep in mind that Perry’s team is actively challenging the entire ruling.  Stay tuned.