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Kraftwerk Lose 20-year-long Legal Dispute Over Uncleared Sample

The court ruled in favor of "artistic freedom"
Kraftwerk (photo by Tõnu Tunnel)

Kraftwerk (photo by Tõnu Tunnel)

The German Techno innovators known as Kraftwerk have just lost an intriguing legal dispute over a sample that was used in a Hip Hop track. 

A producer named Moses Pelham was sued by Ralf Hutter of Kraftwerk for using a 2 second drum beat sampled from Kraftwerk's track ‘Metall auf Metall’, released in 1977 on their album Trans-Europe Express. The drum beat that was sampled, was looped continuously on a track that Pelham produced for Sabrina Setlur titled ‘Nur Mir’, which was released in 1997. This legal dispute that has been ongoing for almost 20 years, was just ruled in favor of Pelham.

According to BBC, the German Constitutional Court found that the impact on Kraftwerk did not outweigh Pelham's "artistic freedom". 

Sampling a drum pattern is a tricky situation when dealing with copyright infringement on artistic property. You can only imagine how many beats have been produced and reproduced over time. The court said that if they ruled in favor of Kraftwerk, this would "practically exclude the creation of pieces of music in a particular style".

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Prior to the ruling made on Tuesday, the German Federal Union of the Music Industry cautioned against the notion that "artistic freedom trumps everything," stating that it would lead to more consequences. Florian Druecke who is the director of the union, said this viewpoint "would be grist to the mill for those who claim that everything should be allowed on the internet".

With the recent copyright dispute facing Justin Bieber and Skrillex regarding their hit track 'Sorry', we can see how White Hinterland might not have a strong case. Although Diplo seems to think she does. That being said, this recent lose for Kraftwerk occurred in German court, which has some of the harshest copyright laws in Europe.

Listen to both the Kraftwerk and Sabrina Setlur tracks below.

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