By Alex HudsonFor the past 12 years, electronic legends Kraftwerk have been involved in a legal battle with producers Moses Pelham and Martin Haas over an uncleared two-second sample. Now, the case has flip-flopped once again, with a judge this time ruling in favour of Kraftwerk.
As we reported way back in 2008, band sued Pelham and Haas for sampling 1977's "Metall auf Metall" (which translates as "Metal on Metal") on the 1997 rap track "Nur Mir" by Sabrina Setlur. The Economist [via FACT] notes that a Hamburg court ruled in Kraftwerk's favour in 2004, but the decision was reversed two years later, and the case has been tossed between courts since then. The latest ruling, on December 13, found Kraftwerk to be in the right.
Germany's Supreme Court decided that an uncleared sample is only permissible if a sound cannot be recreated by any other means. In this case, the court decided that the sample from "Metall auf Metall" could have been closely approximated at the time "Nur Mir" was recorded, meaning that Pelham and Haas' sample is not permissible.
This criteria for sampling opens up a whole bag of questions and problems that we won't go into here, but in any event, the court's decision works in favour of Kraftwerk. Whether this case is finally over, or if the parties will continue to battle on, remains to be seen.