A video from the news and politics program The Young Turks discusses, the 2012 song “Harlem Shake” that spawned countless YouTube dance videos after going viral last month. However, the New York Times reported that the popularity was especially surprising to individuals whose records were used in the song without their permission.
Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson received a call from another member of the former rap collective Plastic Little informing him that his voice could be heard on the key phrase, “Do the Harlem Shake.” Hector Delgado received a call from his former manager, Javier Gómez, about his voice also being heard on the song. Harry Bauer Rodrigues, the song’s producer and writer who records under the name Baauer, used snippets of the men’s records without their permission. Both of them are now seeking compensation from Mad Decent Records, the label that released the single.
As the Times noted, “Obtaining licenses to use samples has become standard practice in the music industry, and in most cases a license is needed from both the music publisher and the record label that made the master recording.” Artists whose work is sampled are entitled to royalties, but smaller labels such as Mad Decent often “lack the resources to have lawyers vet releases and instead rely on producers to make sure recordings are free of copyright problems.” This can be especially true with electronic dance music tracks such as “Harlem Shake.”
Musson told the Times that he called Rodrigues to thank him for “doing something useful with our annoying music” and he was negotiating with Mad Decent over compensation, but the discussions were friendly. “Mad Decent have been more than cooperative during this,” Musson told the Times in an e-mail. Gómez told the Times that lawyers for Machete Music were also negotiating with Mad Decent over payment for the sample. “Hector will get what he deserves,” Gómez said. “We can turn around and stop that song. That’s a clear breaking of intellectual propertyrights.”
The evolution of voice recognition software has helped many artists seek compensation when their material is used without their permission, and you can learn more about copyright infringement by visiting our website. If an individual or business has used your song or some other form of copyrighted material without your permission, Los Angeles business litigation attorney Robert G. Klein has more than 25 years of experience handling complex intellectual property claims. You can either complete the form on this page or contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 to have our Los Angeles copyright infringement attorney review your case.
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