Beastie Boys win $1.7 million in Monster dispute

July 2014



The Beastie Boys have prevailed in their legal battle with the Monster Energy drinks firm, and while the $1.7 million in damages rewarded by the jury hearing the Case: whlist less than the figure the band had argued for, it is substantially more than the $125,000 the drinks maker argued was a fair settlement figure.

Monster had used a montage of Beastie Boys tracks in a promotional video relating to a snowboarding event the brand sponsored, which was posted shortly after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who had included a clause in his will prohibiting his name, image or music being used in advertising or marketing materials.

Monster conceded that it had used the music without permission, but said that it had done so by mistake, after one of its marketeers mistakenly inferred from Z-Trip, the DJ the company had worked with on the party in the promotional video, that the music had been cleared.

Given it had infringed by mistake, and it had removed the video as soon as the Beastie Boys made a complaint, and the promo hadn’t been so widely seen by that point, the drinks company argued that the $2 million in damages sought by the surviving members of the rap group was way too high.

The band’s claim was twofold: Firstly for the copyright infringing, based on the principle in US copyright law that damages should be paid separately for each infringement, ie each track used. Secondly for implied endorsement, mainly stemming from a closing shot in the video paying tribute to the then recently deceased Yauch with the line RIP MCA in lettering similar to the drink company’s logo.

And in the main the jury sided with the rappers, who were asking for $2 million, awarding the group $1.7 million for Monster’s infringements and unauthorised implied endorsing. The drinks company has already announced its intent to appeal.

A legal representative for the company told Rolling Stone: “Although Monster Energy has great respect for the verdict of the jury, we strongly disagree with it. We will make an application to the court to set aside the verdict and we intend to file an appeal. From the inception, Monster Energy has been willing to resolve this matter in a fair and equitable manner and we will continue to make additional efforts to reach a just resolution of this dispute”.

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