Monster Energy: “We Shouldn’t Pay More Than $125,000 for Illegally Using 5 Beastie Boys Songs”

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In 2012, the Beastie Boys sued Monster Energy Drink for using their music in an online video without permission.  The case has finally gone to court.

The video in question was a recap of a snowboarding event held by Monster . The event took place shortly after the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, whose parting wish was that no Beastie Boys songs be used in advertisements.

DJ Z-Trip was hired to perform at the event.  Monster used a mix he made of five Beastie Boys songs in the video.  Monster also put “RIP MCA” at the end of the video.

Monster agrees that they were in the wrong, however, they disagree over the damages. The Beastie Boys want $2 million for unauthorized use and for implied endorsement. 

Monster says that if they owe damages, it shouldn’t be more than $125,000.

Here’s Monster’s official statement:

“Monster has no intention of litigating this matter in the media, but since the case has now received publicity we felt we should let the public know the facts as we see them.  Monster in good faith believed it had obtained the rights to use a compilation of certain Beastie Boys music for an Internet video. The video recounted a snowboarding event in Canada that Monster sponsored where the after party featured many Beastie Boys songs played by the DJs in honor of the recent death of one of the Beastie Boys’ members. The music that Monster used was provided by one of the DJs [Z-Trip], who told Monster he had permission. When Monster was notified by the Beastie Boys that the company was mistaken in its belief that it had the proper authorization, Monster immediately removed the video from the Internet. The video received less than 14,000 views during the brief period it was online. This lawsuit is solely about what, if anything, Monster must pay to the Beastie Boys because of Monster’s good faith mistake. In Monster’s view the Beastie Boys are demanding sums that are far beyond any reasonable fair market value.”

To put this into perspective, toy company Goldieblox is currently paying $1 million to charity for putting a parody of a Beastie Boys song in an ad.

Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

10 Responses

  1. Shaine

    You think if Monster had done it’s due diligence and verified with the Beastie Boys’ publisher this could’ve all been avoided? Wonder if Monster would feel that “fair market value” would be suitable for someone using their intellectual property for public promos? If you didn’t write it, you shouldn’t be pirating it. Pay up!

  2. ks

    Monster sucks ass and their calculations are an unreasonably low joke. Even if you take 25k per each unauthorized use, you would have to consider additional compensatory award for implied endorsement. Monster weasels rationalize their unauthorized use with the counter of “only 14k views”. Lmao.

  3. David

    For the nth time, please stop describing the GoldieBlox ad as a ‘parody’ of the Beastie Boys song. It was a straight copy of the music with one word borrowed from the lyrics. Describing it as a parody prejudges a legal issue that has never gone to Court.

    • Nina Ulloa

      I think it was a parody, and saying it wasn’t pre-judges a legal issue that has never gone to court.

  4. noHumanity

    You’d think a major company would know better than to take an aural confirmation from a DJ that the rights had been cleared.

  5. um

    “who told monster he had permission”. how about “who showed monster a contract giving him permission”. monster should pay just for being unprofessional (more than likely, they just all thought they could get away with it… none of them had probably ever paid for music their whole lives anyway, and didn’t understand the concept of music having value… unlike an expensive sugar/caffeinne drink with trendy packaging!)

  6. hippydog

    Quote “The music that Monster used was provided by one of the DJs [Z-Trip], who told Monster he had permission.”

    Ignorance of the law is not a defense..

  7. jw

    I love the Beastie Boys, but I’m totally with Monster on this.

  8. Dave 5000

    I’m going to put out a drink and call it Monster. If Monster Energy wants to sue me because they feel they own the word Monster then I’ll settle with them for $100 but not a penny more because $100 is a reasonable fair market value.