German techno-pop giants Kraftwerk have failed in a 12-year court battle to prevent the reproduction of a two-second sample of one of their works in a song by a hip-hop artist.

In 1 BvR 1585/13, the Federal Constitutional Court last week overturned a lower court’s ruling that sampling the ‘tiniest sliver’ of a record infringed the producer’s rights. It ruled that where an artist’s freedom of expression only slightly limits the possibilities of commercial exploitation, ‘the exploitation interests of the phonogram producer may have to cede in favour of artistic dialogue’.