Carrie Underwood plagiarized NFL 'Sunday Night Football' song 'Game On,' lawsuit says

Carrie Underwood has been accused of plagiarizing, and is facing a lawsuit from singer Heidi Merrill that claims the American Idol winner’s song “Game On” was straight up lifted from a similar song by Merrill — and even has the exact same name.

Merrill, a Nebraska native, rose to internet fame in 2015 with her song “Cornhusker Strong,” a sports anthem that raised her profile. Two years later, she tried to increase her brand by putting the song and video for “Game On” on YouTube.

Merrill, who is now living in Southern California as she pursues her music career, claims that in August 2017, nearly six months after she posted the “Game On” video online, she met with Mark Bright, one of Underwood’s producers. The two chatted at a Nashville event, where Merrill is alleged to have asked Bright if Underwood would be interested in a new song for the 2018 season of Sunday Night Football, which Underwood has performed for since 2013.

Merrill says she sent “Game On” to Bright, but he passed. However, just over a year later, Underwood debuted her own song, also called “Game On,” on the NFL broadcast.

Merrill’s plagiarism suit names not only Underwood and Bright, but also the NFL and NBC, the broadcaster of Sunday Night Football. Also named as co-defendants are music publishers Sony Corp. and Warner Music Group. Merrill’s suit says that Underwood’s “Game On” is “substantially — even strikingly — similar, if not identical” to her 2017 song of the same name.

Lawyer Tim Foster, on behalf of Merrill and her song’s co-writers, said that his team attempted to reach out to Underwood’s camp to resolve the situation but were summarily rebuffed.

“Ms. Underwood recorded a song that was substantially similar to the original song submitted through her producer, without giving credit or compensation of any kind to the original songwriters,” Foster told Reuters. “We assume that there will be significant damages.”

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Carrie Underwood at the 2019 ACM Awards
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Carrie Underwood at the 2019 ACM Awards
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood attends the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood attends the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher attend the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Mickey Guyton, Lauren Alaina, Carrie Underwood, Chrissy Metz, and Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye of Maddie & Tae perform onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Carrie Underwood, Chrissy Metz and Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye of Maddie & Tae during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Mickey Guyton, Lauren Alaina, Chrissy Metz,Carrie Underwood, and Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye of Maddie & Tae during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Carrie Underwood and Chrissy Metz perform onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood attend the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rich Fury/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Shearer/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Shearer/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019/FilmMagic for ACM )
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood attend the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Shearer/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood performs during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
US singer Carrie Underwood arrives for the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
US singer Carrie Underwood arrives for the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood attends the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Carrie Underwood attends the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM)
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The case, Merrill et al v. Underwood et al, was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

So far, Underwood’s camp has not commented on the situation.

Underwood has previously been accused of lifting work from other songwriters. Songwriters Ron McNeill and Georgia Lyons filed a lawsuit alleging that Underwood failed to give them writing credit on her hit “Something in the Water.” Similarly to the “Game On” situation, McNeill and Lyons allege that they got the song to Underwood’s people through a proxy in Nashville.

And in 2016, Underwood and fellow country artist Brad Paisley were sued by songwriter Amy Bowen, who claimed that Paisley’s duet with Underwood, “Remind Me,” featured elements purloined from a song of the same name that Bowen had written. The case was resolved in Paisley and Underwood’s favor, with the former even mocking his accusers in his song “High Life” from his 2014 album, Moonshine in the Trunk.

According to Forbes, Underwood has sold more records than any other winner of American Idol, with over 15 million records to her credit.

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