Beastie Boys Awarded 1.7 Million From Monster

The Beastie Boys won an award of $1.7mm against Monster Beverage Corp, the makers of Monster energy drinks. The Beastie Boys are known to take a hard-line against the use of their music for advertising (although there are some exceptions). Monster used the group’s music and likeness for numerous promotional videos without permission for a summer snowboarding event in Canada called Ruckus in the Rockies and a social media campaign in 2012. The Beastie Boys sued for copyright infringement for the use of 26 songs, infringement under the Lanham Act, and violation New York Civil Rights laws.

Monster upload the four minute video containing the infringing songs to YouTube and included Beastie Boy songs “Sabotage”, “So What’cha Want”, “Make Some Noise”, and “Paul Revere.” The video concluded with the words “RIP MCA.” MCA is the Beastie Boys member named Adam Yauch who died from cancer one day prior to Monster’s event. Yauch’s will expressly states “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”

Monster acknowledged infringement but denied it was willful infringement and requested no more than $125,000 in damages. The denial of willful infringement was based upon the assertion that an insidious corporate conspiracy was the cause of infringement. Unsurprisingly, the jury did not buy this.