Beastie Boys Gotta Fight for Their Right to Sample

By Edward Tan, JD on May 09, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hip hop group Beastie Boys has been sued for copyright infringement. The lawsuit accuses the rappers of illegally sampling music in their 1986 album "License to Ill" and the 1989 album "Paul's Boutique."

The suit was filed in New York federal court by TufAmerica, Inc. on May 3rd, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Just a day later, Beastie Boys founding member Adam "MCA" Yauch died after a nearly three-year battle with cancer.

It's terrible timing for sure, but TufAmerica plans to continue forward with its lawsuit. So what does the company want out of its cause of action?

The company seeks a permanent injunction preventing the rap group from continuing to use TufAmerica's music properties, as well as punitive damages.

TufAmerica claims the Beastie Boys used music from Trouble Funk, whose recordings are owned by the plaintiff. However, the company may have trouble getting pass the statute of limitations.

Under U.S. copyright law, civil actions for copyright infringement must be brought within three years after the harm is discovered. However, this time restriction can be extended if the infringement is ongoing.

Though the cited albums were released over 20 years ago, TufAmerica claims they only learned of the infringement recently. Because of advancements in technology, the company says it was finally able to dissect the albums and discover the illegal sampling. If the court goes along with this argument, the statute of limitations might not be a problem for the plaintiff.

TufAmerica lists a plethora of classic Beastie Boys tunes including "Shadrach" and "Hold It Now Hit It" as containing infringing samples. The former appeared in "Paul's Boutique." That album contained a mix of almost 300 music samples.

In addition to the Beastie Boys, TufAmerica also named Universal Music, Brooklyn Dust Music, and Capitol Records in its copyright infringement lawsuit.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard