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Kraftwerk win 20-year court battle over unauthorised sampling

14 August 2019


German electronic group Kraftwerk have recently won a 20-year landmark case through the European Court of Justice. Dating back to 1999, the dispute started when samples of their track Metall Auf Metall was used in Sabrina Setlur’s 1997 Nur Mir, without permission from band members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schnieder-Esleben.

In a press release surrounding the news, the European Court of Justice stipulated that any sample used had to have the original producer’s authorisation . But the ECJ also ruled that use of a modified sample that was unrecognisable from the original could be used without permission, if "in a modified form unrecognisable to the ear”. This latest European Court ruling indicates sound recording copyright holders are in a stronger position for such disputes in Europe.  

Speaking to Billboard about the ruling, Raffaella De Santis, senior associate at London law firm Harbottle and Lewis, stated that the case “could have very chilling effects on artistic impression (…) Where we may well see difference is in the creative process itself, making and releasing music, especially in sample-heavy genres such as hip-hop.”

Listen to both tracks below.