New copyright law to violate and destroy sample-based artistry?

"German electro-pop pioneers Kraftwerk have won a long-running copyright battle over a two-second clip of their 1977 track Metal On Metal…
The European Court of Justice ruled that musicians cannot “sample” other artists’ records without permission…
The ECJ decision could have huge implications for the music industry…
Monday’s ruling means that any reproduction of a sound sample taken from an existing recording must be authorised by the original producer…
But the ECJ also ruled that use of a modified sample that was unrecognisable from the original could be used without permission."

Does this mean that tracks using even just a snare, just a hihat, just a tambourine must now be burnt on a pile of ‘illegal songs’?

Or that all breakbeat samples must now have too much flanger on them or something so that they are ‘unrecognizable’…when does a single hit snare sound become unrecognizable…this shit is annoying.

Personally I think Kraftwerk really sucks anyway…

later on they will complain that synthesized sounds are ‘too powerful’ and cause violence or some bullshit like that…first, make samples illegal…after that any song using drum machines will be ‘gangster’ or ‘drug related’.

Should we make classical music like ‘Wagner’ illegal? As it is known that he supported Hitler?
That hitler stuff is pretty gangster if you ask me…maybe should make Wagner illegal?

Guess it will, as always, fall to the original artist as to whether they take umbrage with that fact of someone else having listen to, and liking a sound in their track enough to use it in their own, or to view it as a form of flattery.

Art is littered with plagiarism. It’s not particularly difficult to replicate that 2 second loop, and pretty lazy (in my opinion) to lift it. It’s content wouldn’t add anything particularly special to my work personally.

I was listening to a recent interview with 70s funk group Cymande on NTS radio. Their material has been sample in countless hip hop tracks. When asked when they took issue, they emphatically said, of course not - as long as they were asked. If anything it uncovered 40 yr old work that would probably not see the light of day, and by re-exposing it, if anything it did them a favour for free because new audiences were rediscovering them.

(Maybe that part of the interview was referencing the legal case with Kraftwerk? I don’t recall)

Just to understand this matter. That 2-second sample was a very recognizable and original “sound piece” by the artist himself? If not, it does not make sense. Comparing this with the beating of the battery makes no sense. Not even concrete rhythms. You cannot take a very short piece or a layer of a whole and with that accuse another composer of plagiarism, when the piece of the other lasts 3 or 4 minutes. That is spinning too thin.

Having a certain 2-second reference from another artist should not be a matter of plagiarism, when a musical piece lasts much longer. With that we go to court?
The point will come that, composers who will be born later, will not be able to make music because everything will be considered plagiarism. It is a bit pointless.

In addition, referring at some time to another artist can be even beautiful.

I myself have seen how certain composers are accused of plagiarism, when they are broad experts in composition and fully capable of doing what they want musically speaking, with thousands of hours of music composed. This is common in the original soundtracks. But to be considered plagiarism you must have a much longer piece, not 2 seconds. I guess we should see the context. Nor is it the same to use 2 seconds once, than to use those 2 seconds continuously in a piece of music.

1 Like

I can understand that some music which uses samples has simply been looping up someone elses works and putting drum and bass on it. While that kind of production is pure laziness, looking at the wording of this new law, its no longer o.k to use samples under a certain length (like maybe 1 second). Now it is illegal to use any sound from any existing recording. This must include all drum samples. For example a single snare hit, a single kick drum sample.

Also this law applies to all music sontaining samples which has been released ever.
Take the example of a band like Portishead. They were pretty good, creative, original and had a nice sound and style. They used breaks for drums and existing vinyl recordings for scratching…with this new law they must pay fines…

Any sound from any existing recording includes all turntable scratching, so all scratching is now illegal…

Any sound from any existing recording includes all sample-based drums so all break beat samples, no matter how short you cut the single hits are now illegal.

Another part of the new law says a modified sample that was unrecognisable from the original could be used without permission.

I wonder what constitutes recognizeable?
For example if I open the song in a wave-editor and look at every single second of that song in extreme detail I may be able to “recognize” some sound that came from somewhere else.
I could use a computer program to scan thousands of songs and line up “recognizable” waveforms against entire catalogs of music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s…that is the actual waveforms may be “recognizable” to a computer program.

Say I take a nice snare from an old funk record, at what point does it become “unrecognizable”. How many effects? just a reverb? or a reverb and a flanger and a delay?
At this point it may still be technically "recognizable.

Its like the last 35-40 years of music just became illegal.

Personally I like a mix of samples from existing recordings and stuff done with synths.
From now on its drum machines and samplepacks only I guess?

This will take so much character away from music…

next thing you know they will want you to pay a fine for using someone elses guitar tone or drumbeat…the same drumbeat has been used a thousand times already, same with guitar tones.

First they closed down all the old ‘acid’ music that used synths, stating that this terrible music causes drug deaths and voilence and so on, then they closed down all sample based music stating that it is plagiarism and ‘ganster’ and promotes violence and drugs and so on…but in the metal world you can shout ‘white power’ (phil anselmo - pantera) or ‘aryan race’ (slayer) on stage and no one will say you are inciting violence…in the classical world you can be an all-out fascist supporting hitler (like Wagner)…no one will say you are inciting violence…seems like yet another arrogant and disgusting set of double standards.

they want to ban ‘gangster music’ that promotes the selling of cocaine, but then openly say that they use cocaine (michael gove, a british politician)…or they say that they use cocaine but that “it may have been icing sugar” (boris johnson)…so they want to ban cocaine music, but still take cocaine and fascist music is o.k, but no samples and ban cannabis because it is “like crack”, but they still like crack!!! (mayor of toronto)

According to the Court of Justice, unauthorized inclusion of a sound sample can infringe the rights of the phonogram producer, as long as the sample is recognizable. If not, it is not considered to be a “reproduction.”

This seems stricter than the USA law , which offers some possible extended protection if you can defend “fair use”

I just wonder what “recognizable” even means…it could be “recognizable” to a computer program that scans for identical patterns in waveforms for example. Reversed samples?

It does seem extremely strict. I guess it will be too risky to use breaks ever again, and no more scratching old vinyls either (audiobooks etc.). Beat juggling and so on is definitely not o.k anymore as those beats are existing recordings.

This new law is just insanity…I bet if someone looked hard enough they could find an existing recording for a sample that Kraftwerk has used.


The sample in question:

Other times Kraftwerk has been sampled:

I only know that in Germany it always was like this, that you are not allowed to remix a obvious sample of a published song without permission (which I find not too bad tbh). I think it is similar in the U.S. law, but here are some exceptions, like “creative reuse” of short fragments or something e.g. for youtubers, journalists…? There is a lot good audio/music licensed under Creative Commons though, which is worth to be remixed, too.

Thanks to the German lobbyist party CDU/CSU, these copyright rules are now even more rigid, mainly good for major companies and “family companies” (that’s how German politics calls oligopolies). The vast majority of Germans didn’t want it, still they enforced it.

I feel like this had spawned off one of my previous comments =).

Gone are the days of picking up while label records, which were recorded by underground no-names just for the purpose of “scratch records”. I am lucky to still have some around.

It all comes down to the artist, and how they want their material to be used, and if there is someone willing to act on a copyright infringement. Only because I am covered by a distributor, and a label, if I find my music out in the wild without permission I can act on it. This is a pitty for the average musician, but a money grab for big corporations.

I have released on my label through creative commons because it allows me the flexibility to define what my expected usage of the music will be. For example: CC-BY-NC-CA (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0)

  • Free to use with attribution (Throw the artist name on credits)
  • Noncommercial (Will not make profit directly from the music / ie. sell the song in another compilation)
  • Share Alike (Share under same CC restrictions)

It would be nice if our copyright system (worldwide for that matter) grew up in the way that CC has progressed. Copyright in itself is very restrictive to the smaller musicians just out here to have some fun. People with an expendable income off of music have the ability to pay out to clear samples before use, most of us can not afford that opportunity.

Like many things this day and age, it protects the big shots more than it protects the individual artist. A single artist can not scour the internet looking for their tracks being infringed upon, but these bigger companies, even through some distributors have teams (and software) scraping the net 24x7.

That’s not to say the laws should be overlooked. In this same context, the small artist that can not afford to bring someone to court over misuse of their track, in my opinion, deserves more respect in regards to copyrights. We are all in this together, we should all have eachother’s backs. A good example of this: ( Amen Break musician finally gets paid)

So, after copyrights, it all comes down to licensing. Samplepacks are licensed works, purchase of a synth with drumloops are licensed works (even between manufacturer and artists etc). Example: Elektron will not provide the factory drum loops from Octatrack, because these are licensed works, when you purchase the unit, those works are licensed to you, no longer to Elektron. You need to go to the first party, with proof of purchase.

Also, do not forget, there are different laws that cover playing music live. You can rip sh*t up as much as you want live as long as you don’t sell the music itself. (As long as you own the original music [cd/album etc]).

I just cant believe these music industry executives can now demand money for any sound at all, a single hit drum sample or a recording from vinyl just being used to scratch in a few words or a drum or two.

its true, bedroom producers who worked hard to finally get something released arent going to have the time to dragnet the whole of the internet and discover their tune released under another name with a wack mc on it, or sampled and remixed by a random other guy, making money off the tune and living some lavish lifestyle on a tropical island partying with the money from the tune

If you want a good side by side regarding this sample rip:

It is close enough that a youtube bot would probably catch it. Seems not modified at all, except either shotty sampling, or bad levels. I bet if she threw it into Renoise and did a little slice mangling, maybe add an effect on it, this would be a non-issue =)

BTW: This copyright one I definitely do not believe in:

If the above is copyright infringement, ALL tracks from hard house to happy hardcore are infringing… It has beeps… not even the same slides in the melody…

  • Share Alike (No remixing)

This is incorrect. Adding Share Alike to a CC License requires that anyone using the work in their own creation must apply an equivalent license to the derivative work, it has no bearing on alterations to the work (remixing, sampling, covers, etc.). That would be covered by an ND (No-Derivatives) clause.

Yup, I forgot I left derivatives in specifically for allowing remix of my tracks =). Basically, the least restrictive without being allowed to “sell” the original. (edited)

according to law if you scratch in “fresh” as everyone does, you technically will have to make a payment to the toothpaste company for the advert that sample comes from (maybe colgate?)

original scratch sample is “this stuff is really fresh”

I wonder - how will the judges decide if a part is similar or not? A group of experts? Random group of people? AI machine? Analitycal spectral dynamic analysis of a sample?