U.S. Figure Skaters and NBC Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Song Used in Olympic Routine

The Marderosian brothers alleged "blatant and purposeful" copyright infringement on their version of "House of the Rising Sun"

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. Photo: Annice Lyn/Getty

Two U.S. figure skaters, alongside NBC, have been named in a lawsuit that alleges they used a song during an Olympic routine without the artists' permission.

On Thursday, brothers Robert and Aron Marderosian (also known as musical duo Heavy Young Heathens) filed the suit in the Central District of California's Southern District, alleging "blatant and purposeful" copyright infringement on their version of "House of the Rising Sun," which Brandon Frazier and Alexa Knierim used during a recent short program performance at the Beijing Winter Games.

The lawsuit, obtained by PEOPLE, also names Comcast Corporation; NBCUniversal Media, LLC; Peacock; USA Network and U.S. Figure Skating in the lawsuit, alongside Frazier, 29, and Knierim, 30.

A spokesman for U.S. Figure Skating declined to comment to PEOPLE on the suit, citing policy that they do not discuss legal issues. A rep for NBCUniversal also declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE.

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Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Joosep Martinson/International Skating Union via Getty

In the filing, the Marderosian brothers say Frazier and Knierim "chose to use the track," which has been featured in various films, television series, video games and more, "for their 2022 Winter Olympic 'Short Program' without the authorization or permission of the Plaintiffs."

"At all times herein, Defendants COMCAST, NBC and PEACOCK were and are a source of media distribution which constitutes control over the infringement which is the subject of this Complaint," the suit said.

The Marderosians also said that the Defendants "[recognized] Plaintiffs' popularity, talent and goodwill" and used the song "in a brazen and improper effort to capitalize on Plaintiffs' hard work and copyright ownership" of it.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Matthew Stockman/International Skating Union via Getty

The complaint came ahead of Sunday's Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Beijing. During the Games, Knierim and Frazier helped secure a silver medal for the U.S. in the Team event.

Just one month before the Games began, the defending U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs titleholders were forced to bow out of this year's national competition due to COVID-19. Knierim, 30, and Frazier, 29, were considered favorites to win before Frazier tested positive for the viral disease.

The pair was expected to compete against Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, and Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov.

In addition to winning last year's national competition, Knierim and Frazier — who become partners in 2020 — placed seventh at the 2021 World Championships and had the highest score of all American pairs at Grand Prix Series this fall.

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