Here Is Why Master KG, Warner Music Can Sue People For Jerusalema Challenge

Here Is Why Master KG, Warner Music Can Sue People For Jerusalema Challenge


Master KG in the studio with Nomcebo Zikode (Image Credit: Open Mic Productions/DPA/Picture Alliance)




There has been heated debate on social media platforms after popular South African producer and global star Master KG started demanding money from people and organisations which participated in the viral Jerusalema Challenge. The musician, real name Kgaogelo Moagi, and his record label are demanding licensing fees from individuals and organisations which used his copyrighted music to push their own brands.

In the Jerusalema Challenge, people around the world shot videos in which they were dancing to Master KG’s monster hit song, Jerusalema. The gospel-influenced house song was performed by singer-songwriter Nomcebo Zikode.

American multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate Warner Music Group Corp (WMG), has since written to many organisations in Germany demanding thousands of Euros in licence fees.

Many people have been left confused due to the legal complexities surrounding copyright and intellectual property. Thankfully, intellectual property law expert Senamiso Moyo broke down the issues for laypeople in a humorous easy to understand manner.

Writing on social media platform on his acclaimed #IPThursday thread, Moyo highlighted that Warner Music and Master KG can sue people and organisations who used the Jerusalema Challenge for commercial use because of copyright law. He also explained the concept of fair use and how this may not be applicable in some countries.



Below is an excerpt from Senamiso Moyo’s thread,

…There are two very distinct groups of people who did the challenge.

Group A- who did it for fun with their friends, colleagues, family and simply uploaded it for laughs and giggles.

Group B- who did it and then proceeded to advertise their business and what they do on the video.

If you fall under Group A, you are safe and it’s not likely that Warner will send you a letter of demand in your DMs. You can possibly argue that it was fair use as it was non-profit use. However, this is not 100% safe and I’ll explain why in a bit.

If you fall under Group B, then you most likely need to start praying to God, your ancestors, Jah Jah or whatever you believe in. If you fall in this group, I also know a good sangoma in Jhb CBD who can help out.

This is commercial use of a copyrighted work and it is what Warner Music is specifically targeting. Also, this would not be protected by the fair use defence.

The purpose of the Use is to advance profit and that cannot be allowed. Even if it was a small ad. You essentially ran an ad without paying Royalties for the song.

Just one last note on Fair Use….not every country recognises it. For example, Fair Use is well established in the US while in South Africa, we are still debating whether we need it. That is why I say Group A isn’t 100% safe.



Here Is Why Master KG, Warner Music Can Sue People For Jerusalema Challenge


Moyo then goes on to distinguish between commercial use and non-commercial use.

The difficulty here is distinguishing between commercial use and non-commercial use. The margins are very fine. Most people probably don’t know that they have made commercial use of something until they get slapped by a letter of demand. Well here’s a hint…

The moment you seem to be endorsing your business, or promoting any stream of incoming, then that’s commercial use. Easy example of commercial use is the below from Austrian airlines. They did the challenge and slapped their trademarks and slogan onto the video. That is commercial.


Moyo ends his thread with a caution warning people to be careful about using songs when editing videos or participating in social media challenges.

Big Lesson: In the age of video editing, Tik Tok and all these challenges, always be careful how you use other people’s intellectual property. If its a song, someone has rights to it, and that gives them the right to ask you to pay them for using it!!!

Ironically, some companies in Zimbabwe which participated in the Jerusalema Challenge are reported to have panicked yesterday and started deleting their own versions of the Jerusalema Challenge from social media following the announcement.


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