Monster Loses Bid to Sabotage $1.7M Beastie Boys Verdict

Beastie Boys
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Beastie Boys- January 1, 1990.

A federal judge in New York has scuttled Monster Energy's attempt to void the $1.7 million jury verdict over the company's bungled use of several Beastie Boys songs in a 2012 promotional video. The trial, which ended in June, revolved around a Beasties "megamix" produced by DJ Z-Trip in a video for a Monster-sponsored snowboarding competition. Monster failed to seek the band's permission because, according to representative Nelson Phillips, Z-Trip gave him approval to use the tracks in an email.


In a lengthy decision released on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer took a dig at Phillips for apparently not doing his due diligence. "Notwithstanding his background (in the forestry and skiing industries) and his lack of training in music licensing," the judge writes, "there was ample evidence from which a jury could conclude that Phillips well appreciated the concept of copyright and the consequent need to obtain permission to use an artist’s music in the promotional videos he created for Monster."

Engelmayer goes on to say that a viewer of the video had "ample basis" to believe the Beastie Boys had given their endorsement of Monster energy drinks. "The Beastie Boys are featured as prominently in the video as Monster -- where Monster is dominantly featured pictorially, the Beastie Boys are dominantly featured aurally," he writes. "The Beastie Boys' music fills almost all of the video."

(The four-minute-long video incorporated five Beasties songs -- "Sabotage," "Pass the Mic," "Make Some Noise," "So What'cha Want" and "Looking Down the Barrel Of a Gun.")

Monster Energy admits they infringed on the Beasties' rights, but disagreed with the amount of damages. The band originally sought $2.5 million but the jury awarded $1.7 million, an amount that Engelmayer says in the new ruling does not "shock the conscience" and should stand.

Monster disagrees with the court's new decision and will appeal, a lawyer for the company told Reuters.

Universal Music Group is also reportedly seeking damages from Monster over the video.

Read the entire ruling here.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.