Beastie Boy in court for Monster infringement case

June 2014

Artistes, marketing


Fresh from their settlement with Goldieblox – the toy company who used one of their songs without permission – the Beastie Boys’ legal battle with the Monster Energy Drink has finally reached the courts in the US. The rap group sued the energy drink company in August 2012, just a few months after the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who had included a clause in his will that prohibited the use of his music, image or any other artistic creation in advertising.  The suit reads, “The text accompanying Monster’s internet postings, video and MP3 conveyed to consumers the impression that Beastie Boys permitted the use of their name and intellectual property, and participated in connection with Monster’s promotion of its products and events.” Moreover, it says, the Beastie Boys believe and allege Monster infringed on their copyrights “with a wilful disregard of the harm to” the group and it did it “wilfully, maliciously, and oppressively.”

The group’s lawsuit claims that the drinks company used their music in videos and downloads without permission, and is seeking damages of $150,000 for each infringement. The lawsuit adds: “The public was confused into believing that plaintiffs sponsored, endorsed and are associated with defendant Monster in promoting defendant Monster’s productions and promotional events”.

And it became clear that the Monster Beverage Corp wasn’t denying using the Beastie Boys’ music in a promotional video without permission: the dispute is over the sum of money the rappers are demanding, which comes to $2 million consisting of infringement damages for each of the five tracks Monster used in its video, and a million for the unauthorised implied endorsement by the group of the drinks brand. Monster argues that, while it accepts it used the Beastie Boys’ music without permission and is therefore liable to pay some damages, a figure in the region of $125,000 is more appropriate. The company say that the unauthorised usage of the music was an honest mistake, that it removed the video once aware of the error, that not that many people saw it, and the way the tracks were used didn’t imply any endorsement.

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