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Gospel Rapper Marcus Gray AKA Flame Wins Copyright Infringement Case Against Katy Perry

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Who Is Marcus Gray AKA Flame? New Details On The Gospel Rapper Who Won Court Case Against Katy Perry

Chances are you know at least one Katy Perry song by heart, and that's no surprise. The songstress has made a career out of composing cheeky, catchy pop songs that people just can't seem to get enough of! However recently, claims about Katy and her songwriting abilities were called into question in a way that she probably never saw coming.

Katy Perry was sued for copyright infringement by another artist, Marcus Gray, known to his fans as Flame. So who is Marcus Gray aka Flame? We're gonna break it all down. The case has been in the works for literally years, but a verdict finally came in and Katy and her record label are going to have to pay up. Here's what we know so far...

1. It's A Dark Horse 

This week a jury in Los Angeles made a decision that's probably got pop diva Katy Perry gnashing her teeth. What was it? Well, they found that Perry's hit song from her album Prism, "Dark Horse" was a direct copy of a rap song called "Joyful Noise" by a Christian musician named Flame. The one named singer's actual moniker is Marcus Gray, and he recorded the track in question way back in 2009, according to reports. Marcus, and the two other authors of his track, filed the lawsuit against Perry for ripping off their song in 2014 and now the jury, five years later, has finally found that they were right, and that Perry is legally, a big ol' copycat. 

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2. How Much Cheddar?

With the verdict finally delivered, the jury now gets to the meat of the matter as they enter what is known as the penalty phase of the proceedings, which we will get to in a moment. It is during this particular phase where they will decide just how much money Perry has to pay out to Marcus and his co-authors for stepping on their copyrighted toes.  Gray is seeking nearly $20 million in damages for himself and his two co-writers. "Dark Horse" dropped in 2013 as a single from Perry's album and it was on the Billboard Top 100 for more than a month in 2014. But it isn't just the royalties she earned that has Marcus in a rage, it's the fact that the song also earned her a Grammy nomination. Not cool, Perry. 

3. The Cases Their Lawyers Made

Marcus and Perry's lawyers went head to head during the trial, each laying down their respective cases. Marcus's attorney said "Dark Horse" has instrumentals and a beat that directly mimicked the same ones in "Joyful Noise." But Perry's legal team wasn't going to take this laying down, they had a strategy of their own that there were counting on to win. Perry's attorney Christine Lepera said that the similar elements were commonly used by other artists. "They're trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone," she said.

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4. What's Katy's Take? 

So what does Katy Perry herself have to say about all of this? According to the singer and the songwriters she worked with to help compose the track, she had never even heard "Joyful Noise" prior to the lawsuit itself, let alone the actual composing of the song. But Marcus' team said that the song he wrote was widely distributed and it would've be very easy for the co-writers or for Perry herself to have heard the song. Another good point made by Marcus' attorney? The fact that before she was a pop star Katy Perry started her career as a Christian musician! So while her co-writers might not have spent much time listening to Christian music, Perry herself had.  

5. Pop Versus Christian

One of the biggest arguments that Marcus' team made was pointing out that because Perry makes popular music and Marcus makes Christian music, Perry's team was saying that no one ever heard Marcus' music, just because it's a niche genre. While it's true that Christian music isn't necessarily popular music, it still has a wide audience. In fact, it just looks plain fishy for a pop star's single to drop with such similarities. They probably thought they could get away with it because the audiences are so different. "They're trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits," said his attorney. This couldn't be further from the truth, in fact, his video for "Joyful Noise" has been viewed more than two million times! 

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6. Listening To Both 

During the trial itself, both of the songs were played (obviously) so that the jury could be the actual judges for themselves in addition to considering all of the evidence that was presented throughout the trial itself. At one point, it seemed like Katy's track wouldn't play due to a technical glitch. She offered to go ahead and perform it live, but ultimately that wound up not being necessary. Though the verdict itself came in on Monday, Katy wasn't present in the courtroom to hear the news, but she can't possibly be thrilled to have lost this one, as it takes a serious toll on her credibility as an artist. 

7. How much did Katy and her label have to pay?

On Thursday afternoon, August 1, the jury found Katy Perry and her record label liable for $2.78 million in damages. Perry will have to pay just over $550,000 personally. Capitol Records is responsible for the vast majority of the rest of the money. Perry's attorneys were trying to get the amount owed to come in at about $360,000. Perry's lawyer, Christine Lepera, plans to fight the decision. Katy's attorneys and the court agreed that Perry made a profit of $2.4 million on "Dark Horse." Gray's attorneys argued that "Dark Horse" grossed $41 million. 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.