All American Copyright Infringement

by Khadija Dukes

When most Americans think of America, a few things come to mind – the American Dream, Independence Day, country music and football. In terms of entertainment, the latter two are considered American’s most favorite past-times, right next to Queen B and the Kardashians. However, America’s favorite sports league and an American Idol sweetheart have just been placed in the spotlight for doing more than just entertaining the masses during “Sunday Night Football.”

The National Football League, NBC, and Carrie Underwood have been accused of copyright infringement for the “Sunday Night Football” theme song, according to CNN. The claim, which was filed this week, originated from the song “Game On” that singer Heidi Merrill presented to Underwood’s producer, Mark Bright, in 2016. Bright ultimately chose not to use the song, that is, until 2018 when Underwood’s song of the name aired on “Sunday Night Football.” Merrill’s song, which was uploaded to YouTube in 2017, along with Underwood’s can be viewed below.

From the looks of it, the music videos do appear to be somewhat similar with Underwood and Merrill both posing in black, studded tops surrounded by bright lights, and the hook is very similar.

However, more than a few mere similarities are needed to show copyright infringement of musical compositions. Two elements are needed to show a violation of copyrights: access to the copyrighted work and a substantial similarity to the copyrighted work. The second element, which can be a little harder to prove, is what Merrill will need to show in order to succeed on her copyright infringement claim.

How this story unfolds in the weeks to come is sure to be as enthralling as the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” fiasco, and I look forward to seeing its outcome.

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