In 2013, pop superstar Katy Perry released her song "Dark Horse" which quickly rose to popularity topping out at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 list. Now, six years later, the originality of the song is coming into question.
The case went to trial where Perry and her co-writers claimed they never heard Flame's song, but were found guilty of plagiarism by the jury. They now await a penalty.
While the songs have a similar beat--they are not the same song. The synth chords are not the same notes; they follow a related--but common pattern. Copyright laws are essential for protecting an artist's work, but when is it too far?
Nothing is original. When we create, we are influenced by people who were influenced by other people. Pop songs are not known for a high degree of originality or complexity. Perry, herself most likely didn't work on the instrumentals. "Dark Horse" was produced by Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Cirkut, not Perry. The sound wasn't overly sophisticated; therefore, it's easy to see how two songs can sound similar without influence by one or the other.
However, we cannot ignore that large companies are powerful enough to steal work by smaller artists for profit. They often have the money to protect themselves from these type of lawsuits. Yet, even so, Perry has been found guilty.
Copyright law is complicated, but it is necessary. Often it could be assumed "don't steal another person's work," but it can be abused. Being able to sue an artist because their work sounds similar without complete evidence of intentional plagiarism seems unfair.