Israel’s Eurovision win in jeopardy as US label claims Netta’s ‘Toy’ was copied

Universal Music Studios sends pre-suit notice letter to composers, citing similarity between winning entry and White Stripe's Seven Nation Army

Israel's Netta Barzilai performing 'Toy' in the first Eurovision 2018 semifinal, May 8, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Israel’s win in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is in jeopardy after a major US record corporation threatened to sue the composers of the Israeli entry over alleged copyright infringement.

Universal Music Studios, one of the world’s biggest music companies, in recent weeks sent a pre-suit notice letter Doron Medalie and Stav Beger, who jointly wrote the winning song, Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy,’ saying it was copied from The White Stripe’s 2003 hit, Seven Nation Army.

If the claim is proven in court, it could disqualify Toy’s eligibility to participate in Eurovision and strip Israel of its win and hosting rights for the 2019 tournament, Hadashot TV reported.

Eurovision rules state that competing songs must be original.

Many have observed that both songs have a similar baseline — as in the case of many other pairs of songs — but Universal’s attorneys have charged that the similarities in rhythm and harmony constitute copyright infringement.

In March, Haaretz writer Ben Shalev wrote about ‘Toy’ that “the music closely resembles ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes. Let’s hope Jack White doesn’t hear this song before the Eurovision Song Contest. He may sue.”

Doron Medalie, the hitmaker behind hundreds of Israeli songs as well as the latest Eurovision entry, ‘Toy.’ (Courtesy Doron Medalie)

Medalie, who confirmed the news, will travel on Wednesday to the United States to try and solve the “immense crisis,” the report added.

Universal officials are “very determined” in their demands of Medalie and Beger, according to sources quoted by Hadashot and said to be close to the affair.

They added that even if both sides reach a settlement that would split the copyrights for the song, the European Broadcasting Union could say the song isn’t original and thus ineligible to compete in the first place.

Medalie responded to the report by saying he and Beger were “surprised to receive such a letter and we are taking care of it. I believe the issue will be successfully resolved in the next few weeks to the satisfaction of all sides.”

The debacle is the latest obstacle to hosting next year’s competition in Israel, after the Knesset on Monday unanimously passed legislation reversing the planned division of the public broadcaster into two separate entities — which would have stripped Israel of its hosting rights.

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