19 Years ago Moses Pelham sampled a two second drum sample from Kraftwerks 1977 song Metal On Metal in the song Nur Mir (Only Me) by Sabrina Setlur. Kraftwerk's Ralf Hutter alleged that use of the clip, without asking, infringed the band's intellectual property rights.
Today the German Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Sabrina Setlur deciding that the impact on Kraftwerk did not outweigh "artistic freedom".
In 2012, Germany's highest court for non-constitutional legal matters ruled in Kraftwerk's favour but the defence appealed the ruling arguing that composers should be able to create work without financial risks or restrictions. The court ruled that sampling is allowed as long as the new work does not directly compete with the sampled work and does not harm the patent holders.
The top court believes that blocking Pelham's sample would "practically exclude the creation of pieces of music in a particular style".
"Artistic freedom" is quite a vague and wide reaching concept, so is completely open to interpretation. Before todays ruling the German Federal Union of the Music Industry warned that an attitude of "artistic freedom trumps everything" could have far-reaching consequences.
Do you think the court should have ruled in favour of Kraftwerk? As that could also have far-reaching consequences...
Eurorack module puts General MIDI sound set under creative CV control