On 29 July 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on the copyright implications of sampling in music and established criteria as to when sampling falls within the scope of artistic freedom. Sampling is taking a portion of a sound recording and reusing it in a different song. The case was brought before the CJEU following a two-decades-long legal dispute between German electro-pop band Kraftwerk and German producer Moses Pelham.
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On 11 October 2018, the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”) was signed into law. It effects a sweeping overhaul of the compulsory mechanical license mechanism set forth in 17 U.S.C. §115—among other significant changes. While many in the industry have been closely following the bill as it worked its way through the legislature, the following provides an overview of key terms regarding the mechanical licensing procedures under the new law that every
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On 23 June 2016, a US federal jury concluded that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not copy the opening guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus,” an earlier tune by US rock band Spirit. The latter song, a 2-minute 27-second instrumental, was recorded nearly four years before “Stairway,” and was released on Spirit’s self-titled debut album in 1968.

The conclusion of the “Stairway” case comes a little more than a year after a federal jury in Los Angeles, California, awarded millions to R&B-soul singer Marvin Gaye’s family. The jury decided that recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had plagiarized Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” in creating their hit single “Blurred Lines.”
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In 2013, several artists and music production companies filed a constitutional complaint with the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) against two Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) rulings (I ZR 112/06I ZR 182/11) that held that the sampling of a two-second sound sequence was not admissible under the German Copyright Act (UrhG). In music, “sampling” is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it in a different song or piece. Sampling is particularly common in modern hip-hop and electronic music.

The complainants argued that the Federal Court of Justice rulings violated their fundamental right to artistic freedom enshrined in Art. 5 para. 3 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG). On 31 May 2016, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court granted the constitutional complaint.
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In music, “sampling” is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece. In 2013, several artists and music production companies filed a constitutional complaint with the German Federal Constitutional Court against two Federal Supreme Court rulings (I ZR 112/06I ZR 182/11) that
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