Kraftwerk wins sampling case in EU top court: permission needs to be obtained to sample another musician’s song

By Jul 30,2019

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Kraftwerk & Apoptygma Berzerk

A verdict in the EU top court – which lasted for 22 years (!) – is defining the rules of musicsampling. The legal battle involved the German band Kraftwerk versus rap artist Moses Pelham who sampled 2 seconds of Kraftwerk’s “Metall auf Metall” single from 1977. Pelham looped the sample into the hip-hop track “Nur mir” produced for vocalist Sabrina Setlur in 1997.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled in favor of Kraftwerk, stating that a permission needed to be obtained to sample another musician’s song. Even if the clip used is very short, in this case 2 seconds. However, if the sample is modified in “a form unrecognizable to the ear” the music producer’s rights would not be violated.

Moses Pelham’s actions remain peanuts compared to the German rapper Bushido who really hit the jackpot as far as stealing music. He had to pay over €60,000 to the French gothic band Dark Sanctuary for having lifted – and this is not a joke – 16 of their tracks without consent and calling them his own. Bushido also ‘stole’ music from Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows, Dimmu Borgir, Nox Arcana, etc..


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