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Olympic figure skaters sued over unauthorized use of ‘House of the Rising Sun’

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier skated to Heavy Young Heathens' version of the classic during their pairs short program in Beijing.

(CN) — Two U.S. figure skaters face a federal lawsuit accusing them of using a version of "House of the Rising Sun" recorded by Heavy Young Heathens without permission during their performance at the Winter Olympics this month.

The group, who creates music for movies, TV, commercials and video games, sued Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier on copyright infringement claims Thursday in federal court in Santa Ana, California. The complaint also names NBCUniversal, its parent company Comcast and U.S. Figure Skating as defendants.

Knierim and Frazier came in third in the pairs short program Feb. 3 with their performance to the song that was part of the team competition. The U.S. team ended up second in the competition, behind Russia, but the outcome was overshadowed by news that Russia's Kamila Valieva had failed a pre-games drug test. The Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually cleared Valieva to participate in the women's individual competition.

"House of the Rising Sun" is a traditional song of uncertain origins about a man who comes to ruin in New Orleans. The Animals recorded the best known version of the song 1964.

Heavy Young Heathens claim their recording features "an originally composed introduction and unique arrangement that has allowed it to be a very sought after recording."

"It has been featured in film and television, including the theatrical trailer for the 'Magnificent Seven' and Ford auto commercials," the group says in its complaint. "The track represents a very valuable licensing asset for plaintiffs and is a signature song of theirs throughout the world."

Neither Knierim or Frazier, their coaches or choreographer, or U.S. Figure Skating or Team USA, or the broadcasting networks contacted the group to seek permission to use their recording, according to the complaint.

Representatives of NBCUniversal, U.S. Figure Skating, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which handles media inquiries for the athletes, didn't immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Heavy Young Heathens are two brothers who have been working together for about 30 years creating music that has been used in "The Simpsons," "CSI," and movie trailers for "The Magnificent Seven," "Deadpool," "The Amazing Spider-Man
2" and "The Expendables," as well as for Starbucks, Ford, and Adidas commercials, according to the complaint.

They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and are represented by Michael Marderosian and Heather Cohen of Bakersfield, California.

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