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Hungarian Megahit Song ‘Stolen’ Again

Júlia Tar 2019.03.25.

There’s a new show coming to ITV called “The Bay.” You might be wondering what this has to do with Hungary, but any Hungarian who watches the show’s trailer will immediately recognize a familiar tune. A famous, 50-year old hit called “Gyöngyhajú lány” (literally: “The girl with pearly hair”) by classic rock band Omega features in the trailer (which has since been removed from YouTube).

Omega’s “Pearls in Her Hair” even has its own Wikipedia page. The song “was very popular in many countries, including Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria.” It has been covered by artists in Poland, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Lithuania, as well as Frank Schöbel. German rock band Scorpions’ cover of the song (called “White Dove”) became a top 20 hit in Germany and Switzerland. There are also various remixes of the song.

This is not the first time that someone has used the hit without permission. In 2013, Kanye West sampled Gyöngyhajú lány is his song “New Slaves.” In May 2016, Gábor Presser, the writer of the original song, filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

The song has been used recently as well. It made an appearance in a trailer for a videogame called “This War of Mine” in March 2014. Once again, in July of 2018, the familiar tune could be heard in the movie “Mid90s.”

Omega’s Gyöngyhajú Lány Featured in Hollywood Actor Jonah Hill’s Directorial Debut

According to Index.hu, ITV’s spokesperson said that it chose the song from a legal archive, and therefore did not have to ask the permission of the original shareholder.

Neither Hungaroton Records nor the members of Omega knew the song had been featured in yet another trailer. If the publisher had been aware, said spokeswoman Ildikó Reisz, they would have notified the band and the songwriters.

János Kóbor, who originally sang Göngyhajú lány, is flattered the song is being used, illegally or not. He said he would not have imagined the song meshing well with the genre, but thinks it actually works well in the trailer.

Blikk.hu asked an expert about the financial consequences of using the song. Ultimately, it depends on whether the song is featured in the show itself. If so, there is the question of how many times and for how long. However, it is unlikely that ITV would have to pay more than 2000 pounds.

Hungarian Rock Legend Gábor Presser, US Rapper Kanye West Settle Song Copying Lawsuit

In comparison, Kanye West had to pay around 50 thousand dollars when songwriter Gábor Presser did not accept the initial 10-thousand-dollar deal. The money was distributed amongst the music publisher and the band’s members. However, Presser and Anna Adamis received twice as much money because they were both songwriters and members of Omega at the time.

featured image: frontman János Kóbor, taken from the English version’s YouTube video