Copyright Law

Artists say 'Harlem Shake' sampling done without permission


Surprised to hear themselves on the track of the viral sensation “Harlem Shake,” two music artists are seeking a financial share of the pop chart hit.

Hector Delgado, now an evangelical minister in Puerto Rico, and rapper Jayson Musson, say they didn’t give permission for their records to be sampled by Harry Bauer Rodrigues, known as Baauer.

“It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house,” Delgado told the New York Times.

While it’s become common practice for music producers to obtain licenses for sampling, the Times notes that small companies such as Mad Decent Records, which released the “Harlem Shake” last year, don’t have the infrastructure to have lawyers to vet releases. Instead, they rely on producers to be sure recordings are OK to use.

Mad Decent, a sublabel of Jeffrees, first allowed use of “Harlem Shake” as a free download, but later began charging for it. The Times notes that sales shot up last month when the recording fueled a YouTube dance fad.

Delgado hasn’t yet taken legal action over the recording and the Times reports that Musson is in “friendly” negotiations over compensation.

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