German Federal Constitutional Court overturned sampling ban

Cologne / Karlsruhe May 31, 2016. The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the case “Kraftwerk” against the Producer Moses Pelham for illegal sampling has to be re-decided by the Federal Supreme Court . The freedom of the arts must be taken more into consideration.

The german band Kraftwerk had sued the producer Pelham, because in 1997 he took a 2 seconds sequence from a Kraftwerk song without asking and made it an endless loop in a new song. In 2012 the Federal Supreme Court ruled that this violated the copyright of Kraftwerk and banned the sale of the song. Against that Pelham and other musicians litigated, as they found themselves injured in their freedom of the arts.

Today, the Federal Constitutional Court has decided (Az: 1 BvR 1585/13), that the freedom of the arts in the judgment of the Federal Supreme Court is not duly taken into account. Because the taken sequence is that short, a whole new song is made and Kraftwerk, however, has no economic disadvantage due to that. A payment obligation for sampling does not exist, however, it could be introduced by the legislator indicated the judge. Furthermore for any acts of exploitation from 2002, the EU Copyright Directive must be respected and thus a bill to the Court of the European Union comes into consideration.


Following the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court in this case the copyright stands back behind the freedom of the arts. Now the Federal Supreme Court has to decide again and this time give the artistic freedom more weight. If the Federal Supreme Court also considers the sampling as permitted in this scope, a large increase in sampling is to be expected.

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