Kraftwerk have won a 20-year long sampling court battle - News - Mixmag
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Kraftwerk have won a 20-year long sampling court battle

A lawyer said the ruling could have "a chilling effect on artistic expression" within sampling culture

  • Patrick Hinton
  • 31 July 2019
Kraftwerk have won a 20-year long sampling court battle

Kraftwerk have won an unauthorised sampling legal dispute after a drawn out court battle dating back to 1999.

Founding members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben have been seeking damages and an injunction to Sabrina Setlur's 1997 song ‘Nur Mir’ for a 2-second clip loop used in the production by Moses Pelham and Martin Haas, which was allegedly taken from Kraftwerk’s 1977 track ‘Metall Auf Metall’.

A ruling was finally delivered on Monday, with the European Court Of Justice upholding a previous judgement in favour of Kraftwerk that ‘Nur Mir’ clearly features the percussive work of Kraftwerk.

Included in the ruling was a stipulation that recognisable samples, even if very short, must be authorised by the original producer. In contrast, “freedom of arts” rules allow for samples that are “in a modified form unrecognisable to the ear".

There is still a lack of clarity in legal terms over what counts as a sample and what is considered plagiarism, but this latest European Court ruling indicates sound recording copyright holders are in a stronger position for such disputes in Europe.

Speaking to Billboard, Raffaella De Santis, a senior Associate at London-based law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said the ruling "could have a chilling effect on artistic expression in an increasingly remix culture."

Hear the tracks relating to the dispute below.

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