Kraftwerk lose legal battle over their music being sampled: Tell us what you think?

Blow to German band suing producer Moses Pelham, as court rules short music excerpts to create new tracks permissible

Kraftwerk perform at Tate Modern, London, in 2013. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Redferns via Getty Images

Germany’s constitutional court has handed a defeat to the electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk by ruling that a hip-hop artist can sample a two-second beat from a band’s tracks without infringing copyright.

The ruling, which overturns an earlier decision by the federal court of justice and is widely seen as setting a precedent in Germany, addresses the complex legal issue of the competing interests of artistic freedom and copyright.

The court, based in Karlsruhe in south-west Germany, said the sequences were only seconds long and “led to the creation of a totally new and independent piece of work”.

“The economic value of the original sound was therefore not diminished,” the court said, adding that banning sampling would in effect spell the end of some music styles.

“The hip-hop music style lives by using such sound sequences and would not survive if it were banned.”

The ruling is a blow for the Kraftwerk singer Ralf Hütter, who argued his copyright had been breached by the producer Moses Pelham in the song Nur Mir, German for Only for Me, sung by the rapper Sabrina Setlur, who is also known for her short relationship with the former tennis star Boris Becker.

The two-second beat sequence originally came from Kraftwerk’s track Metall auf Metall, or Metal on Metal, and is repeated in the song.

Sampling is a tricky legal area and several famous singers have been accused of stealing song ideas from original composers.

Via the Guardian

What do you think about this? Are Kraftwerk right to be upset or should hip hop producers be allowed to take a short sample without infringing copyright?


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  1. it is totally okay when they are against stealing the tones Xavir Naidoo in germany sue everyone in Infridgemend things if they just took only one word out hof his Songs and take only just one sequence(tone- from his Songs he took them to court to sue them!!! so Kraftwer has the same rights to do so!!!!!

  2. For me, sampling has always been an example of lack of creativity and labor to come up with new sounds or styles. Indeed, most hip-hop could not survive as a style, but this is no argument to allow the use of samples without compensation for the original artists. Nobody forces anyone to sample, but if you do and as such use the labor and creativity of the original artists to make a profit, the original artists are entitled to compensation.

  3. It is OK to sample 2 seconds of a “beat” to use as the basis of a song; where, then, does it end in the eyes of the (German) legal system. 2 seconds OK, 3 seconds NOT OK? How about stealing 6 minutes, 43 seconds?
    I really think “artists” who sample others should think about how they would feel if their compositions were sampled but not compensated for…. and realistically, why don’t these “artists” simple create their own art in the first place?

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