Kraftwerk Lose "Metal on Metal" Copyright Case Against German Rapper
Published May 31, 2016Kraftwerk frontman Ralf Hütter has established himself as a staunch defender of the band's brand, recently suing a German mobile charger company for naming a device too literally (they dubbed a product "kraftwerk," which aptly translates to "power station"). Now, though, Hütter has received some disheartening news in another legal battle.
Kraftwerk have lost a copyright case in German court regarding the use of a 20-year-old sample of "Metal on Metal." A two-second clip from the song was used by producer Moses Pelham on 1997's "Nur Mir (Only Me)" by German rapper Sabrina Setlur, and a 2012 ruling sided with Hütter's claims of copyright infringement.
Pelham appealed, though, and in a new ruling, Germany's constitutional court has sent the case back to federal court for a reassessment. As reported by the BBC, the higher court acknowledged the proliferation of sampling in hip-hop music, and said that disallowing the use of a sample like Pelham's would "practically exclude the creation of pieces of music in a particular style" — though, Hütter maintains that Pelham should have sought permission before using the snippet of music.
The court concluded that "artistic freedom overrides the interest of the owner of the copyright" in situations causing "negligible" impact on the intellectual property owner.
Hear both tracks involved in the case below.