Sometimes I have to reach deep inside my conscience to be fair. Right up front I’ll say I don’t care for Katy Perry’s music. Any of it. Perry just lost a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement for her song “Dark Horse.” I looked over her song and the song she allegedly ripped off. I think the court got the whole deal wrong.
I listened to the song in question, “Joyful Noise,” by Christian rapper Flame. I like the song; I’ve always liked the beat in most rap songs. My ancestors beat war drums rhythmically and then used consistent beats in music once they were Christianized. So a strong beat is one of my favorite aspects of a song.
I suffered through listening to “Dark Horse.” I suffer anytime I hear Perry’s voice. I also found it hilarious that a very light skinned Perry is trying to approximate Cleopatra (I guess), but that’s her right as an American to express herself however she sees fit. Liz Taylor played Cleopatra in a film, so that’s nothing new.
For the life of me, though, I don’t get why Perry’s song infringed on “Joyful Noise.” Can basic beats be copyrighted?
I think when you get a copyright case wrong, and this isn’t the first time I’ve said this, you impede artistic expression for emerging voices.
Years ago I participated in a private poets’ group. It was by invite only, and populated by poets who’d made it, often by way of the academic sector. There was a poet in the group who penned a poem with lines so similar to some of my own, I asked about it. The poet told me she hadn’t seen the poem I’d workshopped. I took her word for it. Sometimes, creative expression can somehow be similar simultaneously.
As the Internet undergoes a crackdown on content, be warned this may even affect you, not as creator but as user. If you share a meme whose content is based on copyrighted material, could you end up paying? Maybe.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation explained an aspect of a new law I hadn’t thought about, the CASE Act:
“In short, the bill would supercharge a “copyright troll” industry dedicated to filing as many “small claims” on as many Internet users as possible in order to make money through the bill’s statutory damages provisions.”
It looks like Perry will pay for copyright infringement, although this suit has nothing to do with the CASE Act. I think the court erred. You can listen for yourself and weigh in. TMZ did a side by side video on the songs.
(Kay B. Day/July 30, 2019)
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