Kraftwerk goes to Constitutional Court over two-second sample | News | DW | 25.11.2015
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Kraftwerk goes to Constitutional Court over two-second sample

Germany's top court is set to decide on artistic rights of the world-famous band Kraftwerk, whose sample was used in a rap song without consent. The rhythm sequence was originally part of Kraftwerk's "Metall auf Metall."

Representatives of both Kraftwerk and the German rapper Sabrina Setlur met before the German Constitutional Court on Wednesday over a two-second sample first produced in 1977.

The electronic pioneers have already successfully sued for damages and an injunction over Setlur's 1997 song "Nur mir."

According to German judges, the short sequence from Kraftwerk's "Metall auf Metall" piece was used to underpin the rap song and can be heard repeatedly throughout Setlur's number.

However, Setlur and her producer Moses Pelham appealed the decision on constitutional basis, claiming it infringes on "artistic freedom."

On Wednesday, Pelham argued that the so-called music sampling was widely accepted in the hip-hop genre. All of today's albums use previously produced loops, according to Pelham, and hip-hop would not exist without sampling.

"I view it as my right," he said.

In contrast, one of Kraftwerk's founding members, Ralf Hütter, pointed out the difficulties his band faced when producing the piece in 1977, using tape instead of digital technology.

Hütter also stated that it was a common practice between musicians to call and ask for permission before using someone else's material.

If the court sides with Kraftwerk, their record label could potentially demand royalties for the rap song.

The decision could also have far-reaching consequences on the use of sampling in the German music industry in general.

dj/msh (dpa, AFP)

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