German electronica pioneers Kraftwerk have lost a copyright case against a hip hop artist who sampled one of the band's tracks.
On Tuesday (31May16) judges at Germany's Federal Constitutional Court ruled that German rapper and producer Moses Pelham had not infringed the band's intellectual property rights by sampling the band's 1977 track Metal On Metal in a song he produced.
The track, Nur Mir, by Sabrina Setlur used a two second drum beat sequence from Metal On Metal which was looped through large sections of the song.
The copyright case was initially brought in 2000 by Kraftwerk founder member Ralf Hutter, who claimed Pelham had infringed his copyright by using the clip without permission.
The ruling by the Constitutional Court, Germany's highest judicial body, overturned a 2012 ruling by the country's Federal Court of Justice, that had seemed likely to end the case in Kraftwerk's favour.
According to the Reuters news agency in the new ruling judges stated that as the sequences were only seconds long, the sampling "led to the creation of a totally new and independent piece of work".
It continued, "The economic value of the original sound was therefore not diminished," the court said, adding that banning sampling would in effect spell the end of some music styles. The hip hop music style lives by using such sound sequences and would not survive if it were banned."
Before Tuesday's court decision, officials at the German Federal Union of the Music Industry warned that ruling against Kraftwerk could have far-reaching consequences.
Its director Florian Druecke warned that a ruling in Pelham's favour, "would be grist to the mill for those who claim that everything should be allowed on the internet".