Jerusalema is a song by South African DJ and record producer Master KG featuring South African vocalist Nomcebo. Initially released 29 November 2019, it was a December hit for the festive season of 2019, the track has an upbeat gospel-influenced vibe that transcends language.
The official YouTube video has over 350,000,000 views and became a viral anthem in 2020 after a dance challenge with choreography credited to Angolan dances Fenomenos do Semba went global the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge took the world by storm; A message of hope from Africa to the world in the midst of the pandemic.
Jerusalema Dance Challenge
This above video started it all, in February of 2020, these guys danced and the world caught, the Jerusalema Dance Challenge which could easily have been the most trending dance challenge ever…..next to the Macarena of course. If you have never heard of it I don’t know what rock you live under, I mean everyone, everywhere was doing it, families, friends, flash crowds, people at work and corporates even jumped in…
On Heritage Day celebrations September 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called out South Africans to take up the challenge in reflection of the difficult year and rejoicing in their diverse heritage:
“There can be no better way to celebrate our South Africanness than joining the global phenomenon that is spreading across the world, and that is the Jerusalema dance challenge. So I urge all of you to take up this challenge.”
Ramaphosa may have been addressing South Africans but the dance and song had taken a life of its own a global frenzy with celebrities including Janet Jackson and Christiano Ronaldo joining along, priests, nuns, fuel attendants, airline staff, construction workers, lawyers, the police….
Some organisations were taking it up a level, that you could see they hired professionals for the photography, drone footage, choreographers and such; in the heat of the moment some may have overlooked one tiny little thing… did they really have usage rights or permission to use the song?…
Music producers have rights to their intellectual property and they can claim royalties for the authorised and unauthorised use of their music.
Jerusalema License Fees
In mid-February DW ran a story that Warner demands licence fees for ‘Jerusalema’ videos. Record company Warner, with which Master KG is under contract, demanded license fees for the use of the song in the videos and had issued letters of demand to some German organisations.
According to a report in German news magazine Focus, the Ministry of the Interior of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has already settled the claims for the participating police departments in the state.
Fearing legal action some organisations have taken down their videos of the dance challenge..
The spokesman for Warner Germany told DW that private persons would not be fined or need to obtain a license to use “Jerusalema” as part of the challenge in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But the record company’s stance is different if “there is an advertising or image-promoting effect in favor of an institution, organization or company.”
Not sure if any other institutions have received letters of demand as yet but there has been internet outrage about how Warner handled this seeking to profiteer from the song gone viral… but the law is the law and in intellectual property law copyrights are sacred..
An article on Intellectual Property by B MutangIP Attorneys from last year actually highlighted exactly what is now coming to pass, from a legal perspective: The Jerusalema Dance And The Law To Challenge Or Not To Challenge That Is The Intellectual Question
A part of me feels like there was a bit of an entrapment while the dance was going viral they could have issued a cautioning statement or at least offered an easy way for companies wishing to participate in the dance challenge to contact them instead of just popping out from nowhere with letters of demand…
Also people really should know better you cant just use people’s content without due process…
Some did and do post up a disclaimer that they did not own copyrights to the media thet use…. But is that enough?
While I might want to say but hey cant we give the world a free pass, I mean with pandemic and everything the Jerusalema Dance chance brought smiles and a sense of world unity, I also hope it’s a wake up call for people to respect people’s intellectual property… If I took your phone without telling you, you would have me arrested….
Can we respect people’s art?
PS I am wondering whose idea this was, was it Master KG’s idea or Warner’s… I mean hey Master KG was even retweeting and quoting videos on Twitter…
PS I know the dance moves from before the Jerusalema I have even danced this at a wedding… I think we called it the Bus Stop, who has got the rights to that?