Why the Katy Perry/Flame lawsuit makes no sense

Why the Katy Perry/Flame lawsuit makes no sense

Katy Perry just lost a $2.8 million dollar court case against Christian rapper Flame. The case hinged on the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert musicologist Todd Decker.

Legal opinions on the case, and a link to the initial brief

Things that sound like Dark Horse/Joyful Noise (but aren’t)

The Switched on Pop Tweet/thread that a lot of these examples came from

Musicologist testifies against Katy Perry

Todd decker



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51 Responses

  1. keef sixstring says:

    I have copyrighted silence, the English alphabet and the electromagnetic spectrum.

  2. The Stammering Dunce says:

    Frankly, I think you are being too nice on this Decker guy. We won’t mind if you go on an expletive-laden rant.

    Well, some of us won’t.

    • Taylor Gagnon says:

      I think that the way he did it was very professional. If he were to go on an all out rant against him his point might start to get muddled. And someone could try and attack him for just being against him. Ya know?

  3. Lauge Lund Christiansen says:

    Yo Adam.
    I’ve never commented on your videos before and didn’t know anything about this lawsuit.
    But let me just say that this video balances nerdy music lingo, popcultural relevance and entertainment just about perfectly.
    Very nicely explained and paced!

  4. ky kale says:

    The intro of Dark Horse reminds me of this Indonesian song called “Nike Ardilla – Tinggalah Ku Sendiri”.

    • atomiksphinx77 says:

      I mentioned that on Whosampled and they rejected it even though the interpolation of the descending notes in the intro is the same ??‍♂️

    • ky kale says:

      because it’s not even a sample, it’s just similar descending notes and it uses a different sound.
      I wasn’t claiming Dark Horse was sampling Nike’s song.

  5. wee lad says:

    that breathy vocal sound in moments of love/dark horse is an iconic fairlight cmi patch called “ARR1”, with a more percussive adsr envelope applied.

  6. Tomasz Puślednik says:

    “Man, I hope you’re paid well… ’cause you kinda sold us all out on this”

    These are some harsh words, Mr Neely. Brutal even, I would say.

    • Christopher says:

      I thought that was pretty restrained for the amount of douchebaggery that this Todd character displayed.

    • James Ross says:

      @Christopher Well said!!!

    • Tomasz Puślednik says:

      @Robert Grant Don’t worry, I completely agree with mr Neely’s points and that he called out Todd Decker on possible effects of his involvement in the court case. But the words at the end of the video are just chilling.

    • Tomasz Puślednik says:

      @Christopher That only speaks of the heaps of culture and manners mr Neely has got.

  7. Marcus Sexton says:

    brilliant, can we get a response from Todd Decker please?

  8. Brijesh Kumar says:

    News: Katy Perry sued again….Hires Adam Neely ??

  9. StarlitLilies says:

    As a layman myself even I could tell something was off about this lawsuit, and I really resent Decker for abusing his authority as an “expert” to confuse the jury.

  10. bdProductions | Music For Videos says:

    “It’s a dangerous precedent to say that someone can own such a specific piece of our shared musical language.” Well said Adam!!

  11. shnpio says:

    You and Rick Beato should go into law, become those music experts that explain these cases

  12. Fletch says:

    Todd Decker: “iTs thE saMe”

    Adam: “imma end this guys career”

  13. Charlie T. Sanford says:

    A law suit over a two bar, straight quarter note pattern with only three notes. What a time to be alive.

    • guitargeekette says:

      @Christopher I have listened to both songs. I actually knew Joyful Noise when it came out. It was huge among the Christian community. Most ppl who knew Joyful Noise, thought to themselves when Dark Horse came out “hey…that kinda sounds like joyful noise, just slower and in a lower key”.

      Yes I agree it is hard to form concrete rulings on things like this, but honestly, if enough ppl can pick up similarities in easily recognizable instrument lines… *shrug*

    • Ryan Miller says:

      The music industry is a fucking never-cleaned truck stop toilet.

    • PastorNerdy says:

      Hmm… With a name like Charlie Sanford, you seem untrustworthy. (Just kidding, that’s my name too).

  14. Andrea Manconi says:

    7:27 “You testified under oath…” Yes, goodbye ethics! 🙁

  15. composingpenguin says:

    Haha, thanks for adding doubts to applying to Washington University for a music PhD.

  16. VenomousAlex says:

    Katy Perry needs to hire Adam to defend this case lol

    • Black Cat Reviews by Jae and Belle says:


    • SilverFlute says:

      VFT – WHAT?? Well, they all start on the third degree of the minor scale and diatonically descend by step. He’s just trying to prove that Dark Horse and Joyful Noise sound similar because they both start on the third degree of the minor scale and diatonically descend by step, but if you can copyright that, might as well copyright the minor scale. Also, we are comparing the similarity in the *ostinato* of both songs. It’s not the melody or the bass line! I was just thinking to myself when listening to both of these “man, if this is considered copyright infringement, there is SO MUCH out there which should be considered copyright infringement.” What’s next?! We start calling songs in the same key as “copyright infringement”?! And then you get the whole tone color thing. Like Adam said, you can’t copyright tone color. It is definitely possible that two people came up with the same…sorry, not same, but a somewhat similar ostinato and both happened to be playing it on a synthesizer. Why not go ahead and call copyright infringement Mary Poppins “Spoon Full of Sugar” for taking the melody from the trio of John Phillip Sousa’s “El Capitan” and for stealing the tone color by using a concert band in the background ?

  17. TheBenolan says:

    Every jury member and judge involved should watch this so they know how sufficiently stupid to feel

  18. Sheet Music Boss says:

    From the perspective of a PhD student, this line of argument by Decker is absurd. The few examples you provided in this video illustrate this of course, but also it’s worth acknowledging that entire systems of analysis exist that consider this 3-2-1 motion to be one of the fundamental musical foundations of large swathes of the Western Canon (Schenker anyone?). Great video, as always.

    • BR Harris says:

      The argument didn’t need to make sense. It just needed to ‘satisfy’ the jury.

    • Erik Zellers says:

      @BR Harris Which is why I hate jury duty.

    • BR Harris says:

      @Erik Zellers I’ve been called for jury duty twice. I don’t fit the demographics the defense prefers so they cut me loose in the first round of jury selection both times.

    • pink Fungi says:

      @BR Harris why people call normies to server as jury is beyond me is it because judges can be bought ?

    • aminatakaba88 says:

      @BR Harris oh yeah my wife is an IT but has a JD and the only place she wasn’t dismissed in voir dire was now that we live somewhere that is hard up on jurors

  19. VST says:

    The year 2030: Musician sued for using a snare drum. Jury awards damages.

  20. Mike L says:

    This video deserves to be #1 on trending so more laypeople can be educated on what’s really going in with these types of cases. If the public perception can be altered a bit, maybe that would trickle down into future jurors not being bamboozled by well paid “expert witnesses”

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