Germany Realizes That Music Samples Can Be Fair Use

from the it's-a-start dept

One of the absolute worst copyright decisions of the last few decades was the ruling in one of many Bridgeport lawsuits, which established the idea that there simply is no fair use when it came to music samples. The ruling found that if you did any sampling, even if it's unrecognizable and has no impact on the original song, you still have to pay a royalty. This seems wrong on so many levels, it's still amazing that a judge ruled that way, ignoring the traditional four factors test for fair use.

Over in Germany, a district court seemed to take the same path in a case brought by German legends Kraftwerk against a hip hop artist that used a 2-second sample. However, the good news is that an appeals court has put a bit of sanity back into the process, noting that a two second sample used in a way where it's barely recognizable should obviously be fair use.

The ruling is hardly a huge win, as it still requires the samples to not use the melody and be in a completely new piece of music (thanks to Adam for sending this in). Overall, it's a better ruling than the original ruling, though still seems to limit fair use way beyond what is reasonable when it comes to music sampling.
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Filed Under: copyright, germany, kraftwerk, music, samples

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  1. identicon
    ahhh, 24 Nov 2008 @ 3:12pm

    there are only so many different combinations of musical notes.... sooner or later we are going to run out of new music... and any combo of musical notes will be Breaking the law.

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