A music duo filed a lawsuit on Thursday, alleging copyright violations in the music used during the Olympics short program by US pairs figure skaters Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. Brothers Robert and Aron Marderosian, professionally known as Heavy Young Heathens, filed the lawsuit against Knierim, Frazier and NBC for violating their copyrights by using their version of "House of the Rising Sun" at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
The skaters allegedly played the song in their short program earlier this month, which helped the US win silver in the team figure skating competition. The Marderosian brothers are now demanding compensation.
According to plaintiffs Robert and Aron Marderosian, Knierim and Frazier skated to their version of the traditional folk song "House of the Rising Sun", which was used in a teaser for the 2016 film "The Magnificent Seven" and a Ford Motor Co. commercial, without their consent. They also accused NBC of copyright infringement for broadcasting it without their knowledge or permission.
Thus, all the three have been accused of copyright violations. Comcast Corp., NBC Universal Media, Peacock, USA Network, and U.S. Figure Skating, all of which are situated in Colorado Springs, have all been named as defendants in the action.
"The track represents a very valuable licensing asset for Plaintiffs and is a signature song of theirs throughout the world," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also mentions that the two brothers didn't know about the skating duo's use of the song until "around February 2022." According to the lawsuit, they discovered the song in Team USA media social media posts as well as on NBC, USA Network, and Peacock broadcasts at that time.
Knierim and Frazier competed in the Olympics team event's pairs short program. However, they were unable to compete in the US National Championships due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Skaters in Trouble
According to the lawsuit, Heavy Young Heathens' music has appeared in TV shows such as "The Simpsons," Starbucks advertisements, and movie trailers such as "Deadpool." They have previously accused other firms of exploiting their work in cases that were ultimately settled, including charges against Fox Sports, Discovery Inc., Monster Energy, and Warner Brothers.
Understandably, both Knierim and Frazier both are in trouble now. The musicians' attorney (and father) Mick Marderosian of Marderosian & Cohen said on Thursday that the issue could have been solved amicably but the skaters' agent "basically refused to listen to our issue."
Marderosian also alleges that NBC has subsequently taken down promotional posts for the show.
The short segment where the song was played ran during the Olympics was once again run on NBC's primetime telecast on Friday. Michael Marderosian said on Friday that he didn't know if the short show would be included in Friday night's broadcast, but that if it was, the plaintiffs would have to respond again.
The lawsuit said "House of the Rising Sun" is a "very valuable licensing asset" for Heavy Young Heathens, and asked the court for money damages, and to block any future infringement by the defendants.