“Hey, Pippi Longstocking” is one of the most famous children’s songs. But who actually wrote the text? After years of litigation, the heirs of Astrid Lindgren and the German beneficiaries have reached an agreement before the Hamburg District Court and now want to calculate more precisely than Pippi.
In the dispute over the rights to the lyrics to the song “Hey, Pippi Longstocking”, Astrid Lindgren’s heirs have reached an agreement with the Munich Filmkunst-Musikverlags- und Produktionsgesellschaft (FKM). The heiress of Wolfgang Franke, the author of the German version of the text, has also accepted the agreement, lawyers for the company Astrid Lindgren and the Munich publisher said on Friday. This ended the legal dispute and Pippi’s anarchic credo “Two times three is four, widewidewitt and three is nine, I do the whole world as I like it” may continue to spread.
Legal dispute over Pippi Longstocking text settled
The Hamburg Regional Court decided in December 2020 that the heirs of the Swedish children’s book author should be involved in the exploitation of the lyrics. Astrid Lindgren, born in 1907 and died in 2002, expressly refused in 1969 that the author of the German text version of “Härkommer Pippi Långstrump”, Wolfgang Franke, be named sole author. Franke’s version became known through the German-Swedish TV series which was released the same year.
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The court held that Franke’s text was a so-called non-free adaptation of a legally protected character. It is directly linked to the creation of Astrid Lindgren. By adopting its characteristics such as the house, the monkey and the horse, the lyrics express that it is Pippi Longstocking, whom the listener already knows from Lindgren’s stories. The melody of the song by Jan Johansson and Konrad Elfers was unaffected by the lawsuit.
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Under the deal, Lindgren will now be registered as a co-writer of the lyrics with collecting society Gema. Revenues will be shared in the future. The Lindgren heirs will participate in the distribution of income withheld as a result of the litigation. The Astrid Lindgren company and the music publisher have also signed a contract for the exploitation rights of the German version of the song. The publisher’s representative announced that the appeal against the judgment would be withdrawn.
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“We are very pleased to have succeeded in securing the continuation of the wonderful song ‘Hey, Pippi Longstocking’ after the resounding success in the Hamburg Regional Court and to make Astrid Lindgren visible as the creator of the original text”, explained the attorney for the community of Astrid Lindgren heirs, Ralph Oliver Graef. The representative of the Munich music publisher, Alexandra Heyn, also welcomed the agreement. “It can result in a really good collaboration,” Heyn said. (apd/mp)