E-music pioneers Kraftwerk lose copyright case

31st May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Germany's highest court Tuesday struck down a challenge by electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk against a hip-hop artist's two-second sample of their tune, in a dispute that erupted almost two decades ago.

The constitutional court ruled that if the impact on the usage rights of the intellectual property owner is "negligible, then artistic freedom overrides the interest of the owner of the copyright".

At the heart of the dispute is a short drum sequence looped repeatedly in the song "Nur mir" (Only Me) by Sabrina Setlur, also famous for her past relationship with German former tennis star Boris Becker.

The sequence originally came from Kraftwerk's 1977 release "Metall auf Metall" (Metal on Metal).

Since the release of "Nur mir" in 1997, Kraftwerk's lead singer Ralf Huetter has been battling over the rights of the sequence against the producer Moses Pelham.

The electronic music veterans had already won German court backing for damages and an injunction over the song, but Pelham and Setlur appealed and brought the case to the country's highest court claiming it infringed artistic freedom.

At the court hearing in Karlsruhe in November, Huetter insisted that the commandment "thou shalt not steal" applied also to music.

But Pelham argued that sampling is common practice in the hip hop genre.

© 2016 AFP

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