The Beastie Boys, famous for hits such as “No Sleep Til Brooklyn,” “Sabotage,” and “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party,” recently won a court decision against Monster Energy Drink for copyright infringement. Days after Beastie Boys rapper and bassist MCA (Adam Yauch) passed away, Monster Energy posted an online video to promote their annual snowboarding competition ‘Ruckus in the Rockies’ using music written and performed by the Beastie Boys. While Monster Energy may have thought they were being respectful by adding “RIP MCA” at the end of the video, there actions were unlicensed and an infringement upon Beastie Boys rights under copyright law.
The Beastie Boys (and their fans) took this act of infringement personally as in his will, MCA dictated that none of his music or artistic property was to ever be used for commercial purposes. At trial, Monster’s attorney stated that they thought the company had permission to use the music by receiving “consent” from an artist named DJ Z-Trip, but this belief was in error as the artist did not have any rights whatsoever to grant a synchronization license for Monster’s use.
The Beastie Boys lawyer urged the jury to make Monster Energy pay at least $2 million for copyright infringement. Monster Energy’s attorney asked the jury to award the Beastie Boys no more than $125,000, claiming that the bands allegations that Monster was intending to make it look like the band endorsed the drink went against “common sense.” Ultimately, the jury did not belief Monster’s argument and awarded the Beastie Boys $1.7 million. This decision is considered a victory for artists in that a significant monetary sum was recovered for an infringement of copyright and that it upholds the artistic integrity and wishes of MCA (and the Beastie Boys).