Since back in the days when Kraftwerk first heard Afrika Bambaataas “Planet Rock” they keep on fighting a battle against copyright infringement.
Today, in front of Germany’s highest court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), who is responsible regarding questions about the law, they belonged to the loosing party.
Back in the days they addressed a Hamburg court because they disliked the idea of German rap producer Moses Pelham using samples from their track “Metall auf Metall” (Metal on Metal). Back then the use of even the smallest piece of music of another band used as a sample in your own track was seen as a violation of copyright.
Nevertheless the high court sees sampling still as some form of copyright infringement if the newly created piece of music isn’t a completely new musical work, and if it still bears a resemblance to the original.
Kraftwerk addressed court in 1997 when Pelham used the samples from Kraftwerk’s masterpiece “Trans Europa Express” for a song he produced for Sabrina Setlur, who was kind of the first German female rap star, more than ten years ago.
Because of BGH’s descision, the Hamburg court has to pick up the case again. If you listen to the tracks in the videos below you will see that there are chances that Kraftwerk will loose this battle as well, which in the end won’t stop them from trying to protect their music in terms of copyright.
See for yourself and listen closely: Sabrina Setlur’s “Nur Mir” on YouTube. Here goes Kraftwer's “Metall auf Metall” (Metal on Metal):