Billboard has reported that Germany's highest civil court overturned a Hamburg state court ruling that said the using of a two-second sample from Kraftwerk's 1977 track "Metal on Metal" by a rap producer was a violation of the group's copyright. In the new ruling, sampling music does not count as copyright infringement.
Handed down yesterday (Nov. 20), the ruling has dealt a blow to Kraftwerk's case against the German rap producer Moses Pelham for using the two-second sample in the 1997 song "Nur Mir" by Sabrina Setlur. While the civil court ruling does, however, forbid sampling of a song melody and insists that the sample must be part of a completely new musical work bearing no resemblance to the original, the case will now have to be taken up again by the State court, who originally ruled that even the shortest bit of a song infringed on copyright.
As Rolling Stone points out, Kraftwerk is one of the most influential -- and frequently sampled -- electronic bands, including lending the riff to their "Computer Love" to Coldplay's X&Y track "Talk". The ruling also sets an excellent precedent on the international stage in defense of sampling for hip-hop producers and mash-up artists like Girl Talk, maintain that sampling falls under the category of "fair use." Unfortunately the ruling really won't apply to Kanye West, since he jacks entire melodies.
For all of you out there who want to come to your own conclusion, below are the videos for both "Metal On Metal" and "Nur Mir".
"Metal On Metal"