Beastie Boys Sue Monster Energy, Win $1.7M for Infringement

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 06, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After having been on the other side of a number of music licensing lawsuits, the Beastie Boys were awarded $1.7 million by a New York jury Thursday in a copyright case of their own against energy-drink company Monster Beverage.

The victory is the second legal triumph for the Beastie Boys this year, after settling a dispute with toymaker Goldieblox over the use of the song "Girls" in a commercial for company's line of toys.

What right were the Beastie Boys fighting for this time around?

Monster's Medley Leads to Lawsuit

The Beastie Boys' beef with Monster is based on a promotional video posted on Monster's website that featured a medley of Beastie Boys songs played by hip-hop DJ Z-Trip at a Monster-sponsored event.

The medley, which was also made available as a free download on the Monster site, was a memorial of sorts to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, who died several days before the event. In his will, Yauch made it abundantly clear that he never wanted any of the music he created as part of the Beastie Boys used to advertise products.

According to Reuters, the company admitted it had infringed the Beastie Boys' copyright, but claimed it was a mistake and that they owed at most $125,000. After eight days of trial, however, a jury awarded the Beastie Boys a $1.7 million verdict.

Copyrights are a form of legal protection for "original works" such as music, books, movies, paintings, broadcasts and a litany of other creative endeavors. Under the Copyright Act, the creators of original works have the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, or display their work and also have the right to license others to do so.

In addition to their copyright infringement claim, the Beastie Boys alleged that the video falsely implied that they were endorsing Monster's products.

Under the Lanham Act, using a person's name or trademark in connection with a product such a way that consumers are likely to be misled about that person's sponsorship or approval of a product can lead to liability for false endorsement.

Monster's lawyer told Reuters the company plans to appeal the verdict.

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