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Kraftwerk Gains Leverage In Epic Copyright Battle

Written by Laura Cannon- Solent University student on 14 December 2018

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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 Kraftwerk’s songs ‘Metall auf Metall’ known in England as ‘Metal on Metal.’ The defendants used the sample as a continuous background loop in one of their own songs ‘Nur Mir’ in 1997. Although the sample consists of just two seconds it is recognisable and important in the song ‘Nur Mir.’ 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 Kraftwerk’s recording did constitute a copyright infringement. However this decision was appealed and in May 2016 it was held “Copyright Law needed to be balanced with artistic freedom.” 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 “even limited sampling of a recording can constitute copyright infringement.”Advocate 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 court’s decision, it will not resolve the dispute between Kraftwerk and the producers of ‘Nur Mir’ 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.

To read the full article click the link below or if you have any questions regarding copyright law contact Lawdit today!

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8490169/kraftwerk-copyright-case-limited-sampling-infringement-european-court

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