Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” In Copyright Battle

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By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” may be cooling down as a viral sensation, but copyright claims against the buzzy track are only heating up from two musicians who say that the song features unlicensed samples of their music. According to the New York Times Hector Delgado, a former reggaeton artist, and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson, of the Plastic Little rap crew, are claiming that “Harlem Shake” uses their voices without permission and they want compensation.

Delgado provides the “Con los terroristas!” scream at the beginning of the song, and throughout, while Musson’s “Do the Harlem Shake” repeats during the refrain. “It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house,” Delgado told the paper.

Baauer himself has yet to comment on the copyright allegations.

The track topped the Billboard 100 charts for three weeks and has over 816,000 downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was originally available as a free download in May 2012, then as part of a paid EP in June.

This year, the song spawned a plethora of viral videos featuring everyone from LeBron James and the Miami Heat to Angie Martinez and her Hot 97 crew. Several rappers have remixed the song including Azealia Banks and Jim Jones.

Jones revealed recently, that he had recorded over the beat last year and was originally going to keep the song for himself. “Actually, that record was mine for a year, I had that record a year ago and I never was… It was supposed to be for Pauly D’s album and we never did nothing with it,” he said. “When I started to hear the ‘Harlem Shake’ and heard the beat, I was like damn, I had the record for a year. So I just put the record out. I been had that record before anybody even thought about that record. It was a record for Pauly D’s album from ‘Jersey Shore.’”