Katy Perry Defames Christian Rap Song With Witchcraft
Pop star Katy Perry has been accused of infusing a Christian rap song with black magic and paganism. She, as well as her fellow collaborators, are being sued by four Christian rappers, who claim her song “Dark Horse” is a copyright infringement of their track “Joyful Noise.” The complaint alleges that Perry and others, without permission, sampled portions of “Joyful Noise,” a 2008 Grammy-nominated song from Christian rapper Flame’s fourth album Our World: Redeemed.
On July 1st, the group of rappers – Flame (aka Marcus Gray), Lecrae Moore, Emanuel Lambert, and Chike Ojukuwu – filed a lawsuit in a St. Louis, Missouri federal court. It is alleged that the defendants’ infringement of “Joyful Noise” has caused irreparable harm to the plaintiffs’ bank accounts and reputations. Flame and his crew are seeking an injunction and damages from Perry, guest artist Juicy J, Capitol Records, and songwriters Dr. Luke and Max Martin, for the unauthorized copying, distribution, and public performance of “Dark Horse.” Among other things, the defendants are accused of:
“creating a false association between the music of ‘Joyful Noise’ and the anti-Christian witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by [‘Dark Horse’] …especially in the music video version.”
Perry’s music video sets “Dark Horse” in the scene of Memphis, Egypt, where the pop princess acts as a magical Pharaoh turning down countless suitors (as seen above). The 2014 Grammy performance of “Dark Horse,” however, was much more on point for traditional witchcraft. Perhaps, the plaintiffs are distraught over the fact that Katy Perry (aka Katheryn Hudson) rejected her evangelical Christian upbringing.
From listening to both songs simultaneously (over and over), I can catch onto the similarity in the intros. Specifically, after Perry’s opening chorus you hear a voice say, “let’s rage” and in comes a beat that is arguably similar to the underlying beats in Flame’s “Joyful Noise.” But it takes more than similarly sounding portions of the song to satisfy a copyright infringement claim. Here’s a SoundCloud intermix of both songs for you to compare.
Is Dark Horse a Copy of Joyful Noise?
To prove that Perry unlawfully copied Flame’s song, he’ll have to show two elements: that Perry had access to “Joyful Noise” and the substantial similarity between the two songs. 
Demonstrating access is contingent upon the factual circumstances, which are not currently available, as the defendants have yet to respond to the complaint. What is known is that Joyful Noise was released five years prior to “Dark Horse,” and that it came from Flame’s Grammy-nominated album. Thus, it is fair to argue that “Joyful Noise” has sufficient public notoriety that Perry, or at least one of her songwriters, would be aware of the song and its catchy beat.
Proving the element of substantial similarity requires a two-step test of showing extrinsic and intrinsic similarities. First, similarity of the songs is analyzed extrinsically, focusing on objective similarities in the details of the works. This is where the court will delve into an analytic discussion of exactly how similar the compositions are. Expert testimony is often permitted on this question.
Second, if the first step is satisfied, similarity of expression is evaluated using an intrinsic test. The question in this step asks only whether the ordinary, reasonable observer would find the works, taken as a whole, to be substantially similar. If a judge were to ask me, I would say that the total concept and feel of either song is remarkably different – outside the fact that both have lots of snapping going on. However, the underlying beat that continues throughout all of “Joyful Noise” seems to be present in “Dark Horse,” although at slightly different speeds (BPM).
Then again, I am notorious for being tone deaf, so I would never qualify as an expert witness. Regardless, it will be for a jury to decide whether “Dark Horse’s beat is just a sound-a-like to “Joyful Noise” – which does not equate to an infringement – or whether Perry actually sampled Flame’s song, meaning a literal taking – which does constitute an infringement.
 Gray et al. v. Perry et al., Complaint ¶ 39.
Eigth Circuit uses a version of the instinsic/extrinsic test that is borrowed from the Ninth Circuit; Hartman v. Hallmark Cards (8th Cir. 1987); Osterberg, Ch. 3: Tests for Substanitial Similarity. Practising Law Institute.