Is Sweeney violating copyright law with political stunt?

Senate President Steve Sweeney has been waging a little noticed campaign over the last few weeks to get Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr to commit not to accept campaign contributions from Ashbritt and other contractors who cleaned up New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.

This morning, Sweeney ramped up the campaign with a video parody of the viral Harlem Shake.

Harlem Shake is owned by songwriter Harry Bauer Rodrigues, who records under the name “Baauer”and the record label Mad Decent.

The song’s viral popularity in recents weeks has spurred claims of copyright infringement on the part of artists whose voices are in the song who have not been credited or compensated by Baauer or Mad Decent, according to the New York Times On the flip side, Mad Decent and Baauer stand to collect millions of dollars from people, like Sweeney, who “steal” their song, according to Hollywood Reporter.  YouTube and a company called INDMusic have created a program, ContentID, to track copyright piracy and collect from the offenders.

MMM wondered if Sweeney’s video was funded by New Jersey taxpayers and if the Senate President had obtained a license from Mad Decent for the use of the song.  The YouTube channel that hosts the song is called NJSenDemsMajority, a similar name to the state funded website, njsendems.com.

MMM called Sweeney’s West Deptford and Trenton offices to find out.  Within a half hour, a well known political hired gun who asked not to be named in this story called back.

The political operative assured us that The Trenton Shake was not funded by New Jersey taxpayers.  That’s a relief!  If Baauer and Mad Decent get wind of this use of their song, assuming a license was not obtained, New Jersey taxpayer’s should not have to foot the bill for a copyright infringement suit.

The operative was well aware of the copyright controversy surrounding the song, yet he did not know if Sweeney had obtained a license to use it.  “The song’s been used thousands of times,” the operative said, as if to justify the use without a license.

Mad Decent’s press agent has yet to respond to our inquiry about Sweeney licensing the song.

Sweeney’s email was sent from the domain, newjersey1st.com, a Go Daddy domain who’s owner is unlisted and for which there is no website.  The operative wouldn’t say who owns the domain.  He said “it’s a generic email that Sweeney uses for political purposes.

In his email signed New Jersey Senate President, Sweeney asks that the video be forwarded far and wide.

Check it out and forward it to your friends and family. Share it on your Facebook walls and retweet it.

This is one campaign of Sweeney’s we are happy to support. Click on the video above as many times and you can tolerate. Support Baauer, Mad Decent and MMM’s advertisers by sharing this post with your friends and families. Post it on your facebook walls and tweet it.

Let’s help Sweeney use his campaign coffers to pay off Baauer and Mad Decent.

Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, NJ Democrats, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

5 Comments on “Is Sweeney violating copyright law with political stunt?”

  1. HarlemShaker said at 2:44 pm on March 11th, 2013:

    By the way, I think it’s time they change that sign to “New Jersey Makes, Trenton Takes”.

    As for the topic, you might be going a bit too far. Do you think the Dallas Cowboys, Rutgers or Monmouth Universities or the Daily Show ever licensed the song?

  2. Art Gallagher said at 2:54 pm on March 11th, 2013:


    Mad Decent is already pursuing copyright violations and selling the song. I would guess that the Cowboys and the Daily Show did pay for licensing. If Rutgers and/or Monmouth haven’t, they may end up hearing from Mad Decent’s attornies.

  3. HarlemShaker said at 3:33 pm on March 11th, 2013:

    Well, then I guess it doesn’t matter when it’s a fun not-for-profit YouTube goof… But might be a problem if it’s used in a campaign

  4. Good point, Shaker, said at 9:12 pm on March 11th, 2013:

    Have often wondered the same thing when driving into what used to be a vibrant, producing town, rather than the sad and bereft shell it is today, much like Asbury and other urban towns, here and in many states. If it isn’t the nanny state and entitlement programs that have done it, then what,and why?

  5. Gozer said at 9:52 am on March 12th, 2013:

    “New Jersey Makes, Trenton Shakes”