On June 5, 2014, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York awarded the Beastie Boys $1.7 million for copyright infringement and false endorsement committed by the beverage company Monster Energy. Since Monster Energy admitted to infringing on the band’s songs at the outset of the trial, the issue at trial was to determine damages.
In 2012, Monster Energy sponsored a video for a snowboarding competition, which featured a sampling of five of the Beastie Boys’ songs. The Beastie Boys responded by suing Monster Energy for copyright infringement. The focal point of the group’s action was a segment in the video that featured the words “RIP MCA,” in a manner resembling Monster Energy’s logo. According to the Complaint, the logo implied the group’s endorsement of the video and violated a provision in deceased Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s will, which prohibited any use of his name and/or likeness in promotional campaigns. In its defense, Monster Energy alleged that it received permission to use the sampling from Zach Sciacca (a.k.a. DJ Z-Trip), who originally created the sample with permission from the Beastie Boys. That allegation was later rebuffed in a third-party action brought by Monster Energy against DJ Z-Trip. Lacking the permission to use the sample, the federal jury ruled that Monster Energy should pay the Beastie Boys $1.7 million based on the jury’s determination that Monster Energy’s copyright violation was willful and in bad faith.
Continue Reading No Sleep ‘Til . . . Copyright Victory? The Beastie Boys Continue Their String of Successes with a $1.7 Million Award in Monster Energy Case