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Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter Still Mad About Two Second Sample


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A court case that began in 2004 between Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter and the German producer Moses Pelham remains unresolved after Wednesday’s session at the Federal Constitutional Court. Pelham used two seconds of Kraftwerk’s “Metall auf Metall” in Sabrina Setlur’s “Nur Mir” released in 1997—Ralf Hütter was not amused and took him to court. This led to the infamous decision by the German Federal Supreme Court in 2008, that even even the smallest shreds of sounds (“Tonfetzen”) are “copyrightable” (e.g. protected), and that sampling a few bars of a drum beat can be an infringement. The case has been taken to the Federal Constitutional Court. There’s more to this than just that track from the ’90s, this case raises yet again questions about what a sample is, how long a sample can be and how to use sampling in general. This could make a lot of German Hip-Hop acts get into big trouble.

Read Dimitri Hegeman’s brilliant account of Kraftwerk’s first gig back in 1974, when the world was still an analog paradise and sampling wasn’t a legal quagmire.