Kraftwerk is a German Band that was formed in 1970 and have been thought of by many as the pioneers and innovators of electronic music. They are famous for using instruments such as synthesisers, drum machines and vocoders. Billboard outlines the battle the band has faced in order to protect a sample of their music used in another song.
This case has been ongoing for many years. It all began because producers Moses Pelham and Martin Haas used a two second sample from one of KraftwerkÂs songs ÂMetall auf MetallÂ known in England as ÂMetal on Metal.Â The defendants used the sample as a continuous background loop in one of their own songs ÂNur MirÂ in 1997. Although the sample consists of just two seconds it is recognisable and important in the song ÂNur Mir.Â This case has been going through the German legal system since 1999.
The article explains the complexity of the case and the reasons for its long journey through the courts. In 2012 the German federal court of justice finally ruled that the use of KraftwerkÂs recording did constitute a copyright infringement. However this decision was appealed and in May 2016 it was held ÂCopyright Law needed to be balanced with artistic freedom.Â As such the case was then referred back to the German Federal court of justice which in turn then referred the case to the European Court of Justice.
On 12th December 2018 Advocate General Maciej Szpunar advised the European Court of Justice that Âeven limited sampling of a recording can constitute copyright infringement.ÂAdvocate General opinions are on binding, but they are watched closely, since they often predict the way the high court of Europe will decide cases. The European court of justice generally issues rulings several weeks after the advocate general issues an opinion. Whatever the courtÂs decision, it will not resolve the dispute between Kraftwerk and the producers of ÂNur MirÂ but will clarify the questions of law at the heart of the case.
This case is extremely controversial because the decision made will set a brand new precedent for similar future cases. It is essential this area of law is clarified correctly, as up until now it seems this area of the law is unknown, partly due to the fact the case concerns a recording rather than a composition. Whilst it is important that there are artistic freedoms it is also important bands like Kraftwerk can protect their creations, as their sample arguably took some time, effort, labour and skill.
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