Germany’s Constitutional Court handed a defeat to electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk on Tuesday by ruling that a hip-hop artist can sample a two-second beat from a band’s tracks without infringing copyright.
The ruling upturns a decision issued earlier by the Federal Court of Justice and further addresses the complex legal issue of the competing interests of artistic freedom and copyright.
The sequences were only seconds long and “led to the creation of a totally new and independent piece of work”, according to the court.
“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 considered as a blow for Kraftwerk singer Ralf Huetter who debated his copyright had been breached by producer Moses Pelham in the song “Nur Mir”, German for “Only for Me”, sung by rapper Sabrina Setlur.
Worth noting that the two-second beat sequence originally came from Kraftwerk’s track “Metall auf Metall”, or “Metal on Metal”, is repeated in the song.