Songwriters of Israeli Eurovision Winner 'Toy' Threatened With Plagiarism Suit

Writers of 'Toy' receive warning letter from record company over alleged similarity between the song and the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army,' says report

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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In this May 12, 2018 file photo, Netta Barzilai from Israel celebrates after winning the Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, Portugal
In this May 12, 2018 file photo, Netta Barzilai from Israel celebrates after winning the Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, PortugalCredit: AP Photo/Armando Franca, File
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

The writers of “Toy,” the song performed by Netta Barzilai that won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, might be sued by Universal Music Group, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

According to the report on Keshet TV, Doron Medalie and Stav Beger received a letter two weeks ago from Universal claiming copyright infringement, due to apparent similarity between “Toy” and the hit “Seven Nation Army,” performed by The White Stripes.

A copy? Listen and judge for yourself:

Ofer Menahem, Barzilai’s manager, said in response: “No legal claim was received, only a preliminary clarification letter on the matter.” Doron Medalie told Haaretz that he cannot respond because of the legal nature of the matter.

Universal is one of the world’s four largest music corporations. It has signed a number of Israeli musicians, including Asaf Avidan and the duo Static and Ben El Tavori. “Toy” was distributed in the United States in late May after the U.S. music label Sony BMB signed a contract with the Israeli company Teddy Productions.

According to Eurovision rules, the winning song must be original. If it turns out that Medalie and Beger plagiarized the song, Barzilai could be disqualified and next year’s contest will not be held in Israel.

In March, Haaretz’s music critic Ben Shalev wrote: “When Barzilai sings “I’m not your toy, stupid boy,” 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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