Beastie Boys Awarded $1.7 Million in Monster Copyright Case
The Beastie Boys' copyright violation lawsuit against Monster Energy has ended, with jurors finding against the beverage company to the tune of $1.7 million.
The suit, brewing for two years before the trial began last Tuesday in New York Federal Court, centered around Monster Energy's use of a Beastie Boys "megamix," put together by DJ Z-Trip, who gave Monster Energy representative Nelson Phillips the OK to use to use his mix for the soundtrack of a four-minute-long recap video of a snowboarding competition sponsored by the company.
The video incorporated five Beasties songs -- "Sabotage," "Pass the Mic," "Make Some Noise," "So What'cha Want" and "Looking Down the Barrel Of a Gun" -- which Monster Energy, in its opening statements presented last week, admitted to infringing upon.
Additionally, the second-to-last shot of the video featured the words "RIP MCA" with a design reminiscent of Monster Energy's green logo, which the Beastie Boys argued implied the band's endorsement. The message also ran counter to a provision of Adam "MCA" Yauch's will stating his name and/or likeness was not to be used in promotional campaigns.
The trial -- which brought both living members of the group, Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond, to the stand -- also resulted in the affirmation of a longstanding assumption by the group's fans that they wouldn't record as the Beastie Boys ever again, after Yauch's passing. Diamond testified that “We can’t make new music," according to the New York Daily News.
Since Monster Energy had admitted its fault in infringing on the Beasties' work from the outset of the trial, at issue was the amount the company would pay the band for doing so. Diamond and Horovitz were seeking $1 million for the infringement of their song licenses and another $1 million for the implied endorsement. Throughout the week, Monster Energy brought forth witnesses to bolster their contention that $125,000 was a more equitable rate for their copyright toe-stepping.
The jurors in the case disagreed.