- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 16, 2017

The artists behind “Harlem Shake,” a dance song that became an internet meme in 2013, have threatened legal action against the head of the Federal Communications Commission for using the tune in a video defending his recent decision to repeal net neutrality protections.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai dances to “Harlem Shake” near the end of a video uploaded to YouTube the week titled “7 Things You Can Still Do on the Internet After Net Neutrality,” much to the chagrin of both the DJ that recorded the song and the owner of the record label that released it.

“Harlem Shake” author Harry Rodrigues, known professionally as Baauer, became aware of the video after being notified on Twitter by the founder of Mad Decent records Thursday morning.

“yo @baauer did the FCC license your song for this? this is your moment to become a hero. call the lawyers,” tweeted Thomas Pentz, an American DJ and record executive better known by his stage name, Diplo.

“I’m Taking action. Whatever I can do to stop this loser,” Mr. Rodrigues responded.

The video featuring Mr. Pai was produced by The Daily Caller conservative news site and uploaded to its YouTube channel on Wednesday this week a day before the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of repealing net neutrality protections that prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from selectively throttling access to web content.

“Here are just a few of the things you’ll be able to do on the internet after these Obama-era regulations are appealed,” Mr. Pai said in the video pitching his plan to gut net neutrality protections.

“You can still drive memes right into the ground,” the FCC chair says near the end of the video before briefly dancing along to “Harlem Shake.”

Both Mr. Rodrigues and Mad Decent have since issued separate statements condemning the use “Harlem Shake” in the video.

“I want to be clear that it was used completely without my consent or council. My team and I are currently exploring every single avenue available to get it taken down,” Mr. Rodrigues said in a statement to Billboard Dance. “I support Net Neutrality like the vast majority of this country and am appalled to be associated with its repeal in anyway.”

Neither “Mad Decent nor Baauer approved this use nor do we approve of the message contained therein,” the record label said in its own statement. “We have issued a takedown will pursue further legal action if it is not removed.”

The Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel said efforts to keep the video offline prevailed, albeit briefly. “YouTube, a Google-owned company who supports net neutrality, willingly complied with Mad Decent’s request,” Mr. Patel wrote in an op-ed that said the video was taken offline for about seven hours Friday.

“This is not in any way standard practice for the platform, which thrives because its creators liberally flex fair-use content,” Mr. Patel wrote. “YouTube’s targeting of Daily Caller content and its willingness to remove our video for political purposes while millions of other uses are allowed to remain on the platform should stand as a terrifying prospect for every American.”

Baauer released “Harlem Shake” in May 2012. The track went viral the following February and became quickly inspired thousands of YouTube videos featuring the tune.

The FCC did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Eighty-three percent of Americans are opposed to repealing net neutrality protections, according to the results of a poll released by the University of Maryland prior to Thursday’s vote.

Members of Congress and attorneys general in several states have since vowed to prevent letting the vote’s outcome take effect.


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