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Kraftwerk Copyright Infringement Case Means Victory For Sampling

November 21, 2008 11:02 AM ET

The highest German civil court overturned a decision that Kraftwerk had their copyright infringed by a rap producer who used two seconds of the band's music as a sample. In the new ruling, sampling music does not count as a copyright violation, which completely negates the previous court's ruling that even the shortest bit of music was a violation. The court that previously said the Krautrock legends were infringed will now take up the case again. The case was brought to court after German rap producer Moses Pelham used two seconds of Kraftwerk's "Metal On Metal" in the rhythm section of Sabrina Setlur's "Nur Mir." As one of the most influential electronic bands, Kraftwerk are frequently sampled, including lending the riff to their "Computer Love" to Coldplay's X&Y track "Talk." The ruling sets an excellent precedent on the international stage in defense of sampling. Hip-hop producers and mash-up artists like Girl Talk maintain that sampling falls under the category of "fair use," so this can be considered a victory in their favor.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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