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Music duo sues over U.S. figure skating pair's use of song for short program

Music duo Heavy Young Heathens filed a lawsuit Thursday over Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier's use of the song "House of the Rising Sun."

DENVER — A music duo filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming copyright violation over the music that U.S. pairs figure skaters Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier use in their Olympics short program.

Plaintiffs Robert and Aron Marderosian are brothers who produce music for use in movies, TV shows, videogames, movie and commercials under the name Heavy Young Heathens.

Attorney Michael Marderosian, who is related to the plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Central California over the figure skating pair's use of their recording of "House of the Rising Sun."

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Comcast Corp., NBC Universal Media, Peacock, USA Network and U.S. Figure Skating, which is based in Colorado Springs.

The lawsuit was filed a day before the Olympics pairs event opened with the short program. Michael Marderosian said in an email that they reached out multiple times to the defendants before filing the lawsuit, "but our efforts were ignored."

The Marderosian brothers arranged and produced the master recording of "House of the Rising Sun" that the figure skating pair used in their short program without the plaintiffs' permission, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit describes the song as traditional, which means it is passed down through generations.

The Heavy Young Heathens track has been featured in a trailer for the movie "The Magnificent 7" and in Ford commercials, the lawsuit says.

"The track represents a very valuable licensing asset for Plaintiffs and is a signature song of theirs throughout the world," according to the lawsuit.

They did not become aware of the skating pair's use of the song until "in or around February 2022," the lawsuit says.

That's when they found the song in Team USA media social media posts and on NBC, USA Network and Peacock broadcasts, the lawsuit says. Knierim and Frazier competed in the pairs short program component of the Olympics team event, but they did not compete in the U.S. National Championships due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The plaintiffs asked for a jury trial for damages and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from further copyright violation, according to the lawsuit.

9NEWS has reached out for comment to NBC, Comcast, U.S. Figure Skating and David Baden, who represents Knierim and Frazier.

U.S. Figure Skating told 9NEWS, "U.S. Figure Skating does not comment on legal matters"

9NEWS, KUSA-TV, is not owned by NBC but is the NBC affiliate for the Denver Designated Market Area (DMA).

NBC removed the video of the pair's short program from the NBCOlympics.com website and other platforms on Friday morning.

NBC aired the short program during its primetime broadcast Friday.

Michael Marderosian said earlier Friday he did not know whether the short program would be included in Friday night's broadcast, but if it was, that would necessitate a further response on behalf of the plaintiffs.

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