Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’ Caught in Copyright Infringement Web
Baauer‘s synth-driven dance track ‘Harlem Shake’ has become an unsuspecting chart-topping hit for the producer. With all the viral videos popping up on YouTube (over 50,000), the song is generating major revenue for the talented beatmaker.
However, there are two unauthorized samples that weren’t cleared when he released the song a year ago. As the New York Times points out, former reggaeton artist Hector Delgado and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson were both told by friends, after the fact, that their voices were sampled on ‘Harlem Shake.’
Delgado, known as Hector El Father, is the voice heard at the beginning of the track, stating the line “Con los terroristas.” Mr. Musson’s voice is heard saying, “Do the Harlem shake,” which comes in roughly 15 seconds into the tune. It’s from Musson’s 2001 song ‘Miller Time,’ which he recorded as a member of the Philly rap group Plastic Little.
Both artists say their work was sampled without permission and both are now in talks with Baauer’s label, Mad Decent, over royalty fees. As to why this wasn’t handled before the ‘Harlem Shake’ song was ever released, it all comes down to economics.
Most major record labels have their own sampling and licensing departments with lawyers hired to do the legwork to make sure copyright owners are paid if a sample is used. An independent label like Mad Decent, which is run by hitmaker Diplo, doesn’t have enough resources for that. And, most likely, didn’t think ‘Harlem Shake’ was going to be this monstrosity of a hit, especially on the Internet.
According to the New York Times, both Delgado and Musson say negotiations over royalties with Mad Decent have been amicable, so far.
“Mad Decent have been more than cooperative during this,” Musson told the NYTimes via e-mail. He wouldn’t divulge information about his talks with Diplo.
Watch Kids React to Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’ Viral Videos