German music pioneers Kraftwerk have lost their battle over an uncleared sample.
In what could be a landmark ruling at least in Germany, a sampling lawsuit went the way of the sampler rather than the sampled. The case was related to a ban on the sale of the song “Nur mir (Only to me)” by Moses Pelham and Sabrina Setlur, which sampled Kraftwerk’s “Metal On Metal”. In most cases, any unsolicited use of a sample is forbidden and as you might have seen fro the likes of Kanye West and Jay Z, the sampler is ordered to pay or cease further sales of the record. But the court ruled that “composers can, under certain conditions, incorporate external audio clips into their own music without asking permission and do not have to pay royalties”. They also said “if the copyright infringement is only ‘marginal’ then artistic freedom takes precedence over the intellectual property rights of the original musician”.
The definition of “marginal” wasn’t made clear but it’s interesting to see one perception of creativity overruling another. Copyright law is a murky business with as many loopholes as rules and reams of red tape (just look at Prince and his fights with copyright enforcement).
Anyway, stream the original and sampled version and let us know your thoughts.