A complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York by Merrill and her co-writers Alex Wong, Jeff Cohen and Niclas Lundin, accusing Underwood, the NFL, NBC Universal and Underwood's publishing companies and co-writers of copyright infringement.
Merrill claims to have emailed the song in 2017 to Underwood's producer, Mark Bright, who allegedly said, "We're going to have to pass." A "striking similar" song later premiered for Sunday Night Football's 2018 season.
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Per the website Deadline, Sam P. Israel, the managing partner of Sam P. Israel PC and a representative of the accusing parties, called the alleged plagiarism "a blatant attempt by a celebrity singer to rip off other artists' work, and it won't be tolerated. It's indefensible to steal music created by hard-working songwriters and then broadcast that theft on national television."
Underwood, the NFL and NBC Universal have yet to comment on this pending legal matter.