Music Duo Heavy Young Heathens Sues US Olympic Skaters for Unauthorized Use of Song “House of the Rising Sun”

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Videos by American Songwriter

Music duo Heavy Young Heathens are suing U.S figure skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, US Figure Skating, and NBC for the unauthorized use of their song, “House of the Rising Sun,” used during the pair’s short program at the 2022 Olympics.

Heavy Young Heathens, comprised of brothers Aron and Robert Marderosian, state that Knierim or Frazier, Team USA, or U.S. Figure Skating never contacted them about licensing the track, known for its use in the trailer for the 2016 film The Magnificent Seven and a Ford Motor Co. commercial, for their performance during the Olympics. The song was used during Knierim and Frazier’s short program in Beijing, which helped get the US a silver medal in the team figure skating event. The brothers are also accusing NBC, USA Network, and Peacock of broadcasting it without permission.

Aron and Robert Marderosian are known for their work composing and performing music for television shows, including Big Sky, Eastbound & Down, The Simpsons, The Righteous Gemstones, and Dead to Me.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of Team United States; Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

The lawsuit, obtained by Reuters, reads:

“Plaintiffs bring this action seeking to put an immediate stop to, and to obtain redress for, Defendants’ blatant and purposeful infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright of the musical master recording entitled “House of the Rising Sun,” the lawsuit reads.

“Defendants have used, created and publicized (or caused to be used, created and publicized) broadcasts of a 2022 Beijing Olympic pair figure skating performance which features the Plaintiffs’ musical composition “House of the Rising Sun” without authorization from Plaintiff, the lawsuit continues. “Defendants’ conduct must immediately be stopped and/or enjoined and Plaintiffs must be compensated for each of Defendants’ willful acts of infringement.

“These violations cause great harm to the value of (the Marderosians) command for such a well-known piece of their recording catalog and insults the integrity of their professional reputation. While Knierim/Frazier, USFS, NBC, USA, PEACOCK are all profiting from the revenue the 2022 Winter Olympics generate, (the Marderosians) have been and continue to be deprived of what their creation ‘House of the Rising Sun’ earns them per license.”

In the lawsuit, the group is asking “for damages in such amount as may be found, or as otherwise permitted by law” and “for a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants, and their respective agents, servants, employees, officers, successors, licensees and assigns, and all persons acting in concert or participation with each or any of them, from continuing to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyright in the Infringed Composition.”

The group’s attorney and father, Mick Marderosian, told Reuters that the skater’s agent “basically refused to listen to our issue.” He also noted that NBC has removed posts of the performance since the lawsuit.

Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

2 Comments

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  1. How in the world did this get past all the lawyers of US Figure Skating, NBC, Peacock, etc? Someone certainly must have know it needed to be licensed. Personally, I think the publicity is worth it, but the law is the law. And, as a songwriter, I would certainly want my song licensed, even if I didn’t charge them.

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