Underwood, a former winner of singing competition “American Idol”, was accused of copying a song composed by the plaintiffs after it was brought to her in a pitch meeting.
The song, “Something in the Water”, was composed by Lyons and McNeill in August 2012. They registered the composition with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers and received a US copyright registration in March 2017.
Lyons and McNeill claimed that they had entered into an agreement to pitch four of their compositions in January 2013. In April 2014, the plaintiffs said they received a report stating that Underwood had listened to the song in a meeting to consider it for her upcoming album but had declined to use it.
One month later, Underwood and others wrote a similar composition called “Something in the Water”, according to the claim. Sony Music Nashville, a subsidiary of Sony Music, released Underwood’s album, which featured the allegedly infringing track, in September that year.
Underwood’s song was certified platinum in February 2015.
“The hook of the infringing work … is structurally and lyrically identical, and substantially similar melodically to plaintiffs’ composition of the same title,” alleged the claim. Lyons and McNeill are seeking an injunction, damages and profits.
This isn’t the first time Underwood has been accused of copyright infringement. In August last year, Underwood and another country singer, Brad Paisley, had won an infringement suit over their song “Remind Me”.
The verdict was three years in the making.
Amy Bowen, a songwriter known as Lizza Connor, had claimed that the pair had copied her song with the same name.
But District Judge Aleta Trauger held that Bowen had failed to show that the “defendants’ use of some of the same musical techniques and melodic features was similar enough to her use of the same techniques and features to render the expressions of the hook phrases in the two works substantially similar.”