White Stripes’ Jack White gets co-credit for Israel’s Eurovision-winning ‘Toy’
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White Stripes’ Jack White gets co-credit for Israel’s Eurovision-winning ‘Toy’

Composers of contest-winning entry said to give Universal Music Studios partial rights to Netta Barzilai’s hit, ending dispute over similarities to ‘Seven Nation Army’

Jack White performs during Music Midtown 2014 at Piedmont Park on Friday, Sep. 19, 2014, in Atlanta. (Photo by Katie Darby/Invision/AP)
Jack White performs during Music Midtown 2014 at Piedmont Park on Friday, Sep. 19, 2014, in Atlanta. (Photo by Katie Darby/Invision/AP)

The White Stripes’ Jack White has officially been awarded a writing credit for “Toy,” Israel’s winning entry in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, apparently bringing an end to plagiarism allegations that at one stage had threatened to derail Israel’s hosting of the 2019 music event.

White’s name now appears on the site of the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel, known by the acronym ACUM, as a composer, along with Doron Medalie and Stav Beger, who jointly wrote the song for Netta Barzilai.

White did not respond to a request for comment by the New York Times on Thursday, while Amnon Szpektor, who was head of media for Israel’s entry in 2018, told the paper the agreement included a confidentiality clause, and so neither Medalie nor Beger could comment.

Barzilai was also unavailable, Szpektor said. “That’s a hole she would not want to fall in,” he said.

Doron Medalie, the hitmaker behind hundreds of Israeli songs including the winning Eurovision 2018 entry, ‘Toy’ (Courtesy Doron Medalie)

Following the success of the song, Universal Music Studios, one of the world’s biggest music companies, sent a pre-suit notice letter late last year to Medalie and Beger, claiming that the contest-winning hit was copied from The White Stripe’s 2003 song, “Seven Nation Army.”

At the time, the Ynet news site said that Medalie and Beger would give Universal some of the distribution rights of the song in certain countries, resolving claims of copyright infringement.

Both sides will reportedly benefit from the deal because, with the backing of Universal, the song will reach a much larger audience.

If upheld, claims of copyright infringement could have disqualified “Toy’s” eligibility to participate in Eurovision, meaning Israel could have been stripped of its win, in turn losing hosting rights for the 2019 tournament. Eurovision entries must be original material.

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

In March, Haaretz writer Ben Shalev noted of “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.”

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