A two-second sample taken from 1977 track "Metal On Metal" is at the centre of the dispute.
As the BBC reports, Kraftwerk founder Ralf Hütter sued hip-hop producer Moses Pelham for using the two-second sample without permission. Hütter claims the sample is an infringement of intellectual property rights. The German Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Pelham, saying the impact of his Kraftwerk-sampling production—"Nur Mir (Only Me)" by Sabrina Setlu—didn't outweigh his right to "artistic freedom" and that ruling it illegal would "practically exclude the creation of pieces of music in a particular style."
The German Constitutional Court's verdict opposes a 2012 decision made by Germany's Federal Court Of Justice, which ruled in favour of Hütter. This latest development means the case will be sent back to the federal court for reassessment.
Hütter continues to perform live with Kraftwerk. Following a headline performance at Movement in Detroit this past weekend, the outfit is taking its 3D show to Norway in August, followed by a string of dates in the US later in the year.