Rewind! Germany’s Top Court Nixes Kraftwerk Sample Verdicts

German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk have suffered a legal setback at Germany’s highest court in a suit over a two-second sample.

The verdict is a victory for German music producer Moses Pelham, who had used a beat from Kraftwerk’s 1977 work “Metall auf Metall” without permission or payment.

Pelham had argued that restricting the use of even short sequences would limit his artistic freedom because rap and hip hop rely heavily on sampling.

Tuesday’s ruling by Germany’s Constitutional Court means lower courts will have to reconsider several verdicts in Kraftwerk’s favor.

The court left open the possibility that Parliament could make payment for samples obligatory.

Photo: Michal Krumphanzl / CTK via AP
Forum Karlin, Prague, Czech Republic

It also proposed transferring the Kraftwerk case to the European Court of Justice since copyright law was harmonized across the European Union in 2002.