With the expansion of bandwidth, availability of free hosting sites, and the increased affordability of filming and editing tools, the Internet has become a place for average Joes to steal more than 10 seconds of fame.

Video Source: youtube.com/user/kennethaakonsen

Viral videos are a timeless fad, with one coming up just as another is forgotten. 2012’s Gangnam craze topped YouTube viewing records in noteworthy swiftness, but the language barrier alienated its fans just as quickly. Aiming to top the Korean sensation, the latest entry in the contest allows a wider base of willing participants to contribute to the madness.

The Harlem Shake is a viral dance meme in which a group of people perform a sketch with a song of the same title in the background. The song itself was released by an artist named Baauer, but the meme was originally created by a group of five teenagers in Australia. The concept was popularized by other groups who mimicked the video, helping the meme go viral. As of today, over 400,000 Harlem Shake videos have been uploaded to YouTube so far.

Video Source: youtube.com/user/ATXCoop

Amidst the enjoyment and chaos, users seem to have forgotten one essential legal setback: using the Harlem Shake song without permission could actually get them sued.

Traditionally, companies wishing to use a song for any reason whatsoever should acquire the rights from the owner of the sheet music and the label that produced it. Most videos that have been uploaded for the Harlem Shake meme have not secured these rights. This is, of course, not common knowledge. Usually, only executives and professionals involved in the industry, such as Mitch Berman, the founder of ZillionTV, would be privy to this information.

Video Source: youtube.com/user/iNiLeX

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