Did Carrie Underwood willfully copy another song?
According to Nebraska singer/songwriter Heidi Merrill, yes. Yes, she did.
In a legal complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Merrill claims Underwood and her team ripped off the theme song for the 2018 season of Sunday Night Football. The track is titled ‘Game On.’
In August 2017, the Nebraska native approached Mark Bright, one of Underwood’s producers, asking if he was interested in a new song for Sunday Night Football. Underwood has performed the theme song for the program since 2013.
Merrill previously rose to fame through her 2015 football anthem, ‘Cornhusker Strong.’ She now resides in Newport Beach, California.
Not holding back, the Nebraska native and her legal team wrote,
“The Defendants essentially stole a song created and submitted to the Defendants by the Plaintiffs, and have used their illicit and slightly modified version of ‘Game On’ as the introductory song for Sunday Night Football broadcasts without authorization from, or compensation to, the Copyright Holders as the rightful creators of the song.”
Merrill had previously assembled a writing team through her “music industry contacts.” After creating ‘Game On,’ she marketed the song, ultimately aiming to have it licensed for use in television broadcasts of sporting events. The Nebraska native uploaded the track onto YouTube on March 17th, 2017.
“Through the Copyright Holders’ efforts to market and distribute the Work, ‘Game On’ was featured during a broadcast of CBS Inside College Basketball on or around March 11th, 2017, contemporaneously with Merrill’s upload of the ‘Game On’ music video to YouTube.”
After Bright shared the work with Underwood, the country singer went on to replace her previous duet with Miranda Lambert, ‘Something Bad.’ NBC’s Sunday Night Football had used the theme for the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons.
In fact, Bright has previously bragged in interviews about receiving “pitches” from other artists who are hoping to get exposure to Underwood.
“Upon information and belief, as part of Bright’s role as Underwood’s producer, he constantly receives “pitches” of new songs from other writers and artists, which he then takes to Underwood for her consideration, as he indicated in a 2016 interview when he stated that ‘publishers and writers are pitching to all of us…’”
Citing a SongLink article, Bright reportedly touted,
“We’re all playing songs for Carrie and the team.”
After listening to the songs, Underwood then chooses which songs to record.
Merrill and her legal team have asked for an unspecified amount in damages in a trial by jury.
You can view the 14-page lawsuit below.
Featured image by Carrie Underwood (YouTube screengrab).