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Songwriter Accuses Country Star Carrie Underwood of Copyright Infringement

— June 25, 2019

Carrie Underwood is at the center of a new lawsuit accusing her of copyright infringement.

When songwriters sit down to write a new tune, they have to devote a lot of time and energy into crafting something that will sound great and attract the ears of listeners. Given all the work that goes into creating a new song, it’s understandable that a songwriter would get upset if someone claimed their song as their own. Unfortunately, this type of thing tends to happen every once in a while, and even allegedly happened to singer-songwriter Heidi Merrill. According to Merrill, country star Carrie Underwood allegedly copied material from her for her “2018 Sunday Night Football theme song ‘Game On.’”

Image of a Copyright Graphic
Copyright Graphic; image courtesy of kalhh via Pixabay,

According to a suit Merrill filed in Manhattan federal court earlier this month, she “wrote and recorded an identically-titled track in 2016” and claims she “pitched her song to Underwood and her producer, Mark Bright, at a Nashville conference the following year with the idea that Underwood might use it as her next Sunday Night Football theme.” Shortly after her pitch, Bright allegedly had an assistant tell Merrill “he’d have to pass.”

In filing her lawsuit against the popular country singer-songwriter, Merrill claims Carrie’s ‘Game On’ song is “substantially — even strikingly — similar, if not identical, to her song, in title as well as tempo, meter, time signature, hooks, chord progression and other specifics.” The suit further states:

“The Defendants knowingly, willfully, and intentionally copied original, copyrightable elements of the Plaintiffs’ original Work, publicly performed or displayed the Infringing Song, and otherwise violated the Plaintiffs’ exclusive copyrights in the Work for substantial personal and commercial gain.”

Bright and Underwood aren’t the only defendants named in the suit, though? In fact, there are nine total, including EMI Entertainment, Warner Chappell Music, the NFL, and NBC. As a result, Merrill, along with her co-writers who helped pen the song similar to Underwood’s ‘Game On,’ are seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.

When commenting on the matter, Timothy Foster, Merrill’s attorney, said:

“Federal copyright laws are designed to protect the authors of original creative works, including our clients who wrote the original song ‘Game On’ in 2016 and submitted it for Carrie Underwood’s consideration through her producer. As alleged in our complaint, after Ms. Underwood’s representatives indicated that they were not interested in using ‘Game On,’ Ms. Underwood, with help from the other Defendants, released her new Sunday Night Football theme song with the same title, which is substantially similar to our clients’ original ‘Game On’ in numerous respects. This type of exploitation is precisely what our copyright laws are designed to protect against, and we will aggressively seek to vindicate our clients’ rights in the original song they created.”


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