The Beastie Boys Got a Pass the First Time. Now They’re Just Hypocrites.

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Trailer from Destiny 2, which features the Beastie Boys hit, ‘Sabotage’

The Beastie Boys are one of my favorite groups of all time.  But they’ve officially sold out.

What part of ‘never’ did the surviving Beastie Boys not understand?

When founding member Adam Yauch (aka MCA) died in 2012, he asked the surviving members to promise him one thing.

Never, ever license the band’s music for commercial purposes.

Actually it wasn’t just a request.  It was written in his will. And here’s exactly what was written down:

“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.”

Which basically means: never, under any circumstances, link the music we created with a commercial.  The language was specifically drafted by a lawyer to preclude any other circumstances or contradictions from interfering with that wish.

All of which makes a little difficult to watch this trailer for Destiny 2.

Fans will immediately identify that track in the background.  It’s ‘Sabotage,’ which of course features Yauch.  It was a massive track for the group, and it’s a major song in the Beastie Boys catalog.  You could even say it’s part of the group’s legacy.

So why is it being used to help to sell a major game?

After all, that’s what a trailer is: an advertisement for a high-budget multi-player game.  The trailer is designed to make this game millions, if not hundreds of millions.  And a track like ‘Sabotage’ will help them do it by stirring the kind of adventurous spirit that Destiny 2 is going for.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.  People will be entertained, and pay for it. Except: Adam Yauch didn’t want the Beastie Boys to ever be a part of that process.

But wait: this isn’t the first time.

Last year, I was blasted for even suggesting that the Beastie Boys were doing exactly the same thing with a movie trailer.  That’s when the exact same track — ‘Sabotage’ — was used to promote Star Trek Beyond.

Beastie Boys Rethink Their Values After Paramount Writes a Big, Fat Check…

What makes this even worse is that the Beastie Boys have sued other companies for using their music without permission.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with seeking legal action for a copyright breach.  You should get a license.  But in its litigation against GoldieBlox — a company that decided to use the Beastie Boys track ‘Girls’ without permission — the group restated their intentions to never advertise.

Yeah, this is what the group stated in their lawsuit:

“Make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.”

Similarly, the Beastie Boys blasted Monster Energy in a $1.7 million copyright infringement lawsuit.  The band refused to license, and cited ‘irreparable damage’ and the wishes of Yauch.  In fact, the exact words of his will were repeated in front of a judge and jury, and may have contributed to the Beastie Boys victory.

I’ve heard a million explanations for why this latest use is legit.  That includes the assumption that Yauch ‘would be cool’ with the use of ‘Sabotage’ these two high-budget trailers.

Maybe.  Or, maybe the old adage is true: there’s a price tag for everything.

29 Responses

    • C.R.E.A.M.

      Doesn’t matter whether it’s a game or a movie. Next it’s gonna be a Super Bowl spot. Biggest commercial on the planet for Pepsi. MCA is holding the other Beasties back from hundreds of millions. And that’s not a stretch.

    • Ogrealneal

      The song was not just used in the movie trailer. It was actually part of the movie. So doesn’t apply. Besides, who cares? To hear the Beasties unexpectedly is awesome

  1. Vail, CO

    Success killed these guys, I know. All that Buddha + Tibet bullshit and high horse anti-capitalism. Now it’s time to pay some bill$$$!

  2. Nils

    Come on, we are all just humans. If anyone of us needs money to pay their rent and there is a money-offer and the only thing you have to do is say “yes” to get enough money to live from it for some years, we all would take this money (instead of thinking about other ways to make money to buy food, pay the rent, …). It’s not that they sell cigarettes with their songs, or alcohol, it’s just movie/game bullshit…

    If i have the choice to watch a new movie trailer with a beastie boys song or another actual chart song, i decide for the beastie boys…

    • Sherry

      I think Adam’s request was selfish and unfair because he collaborated with surviving members who have families and need to pay bills. College, mortgages, etc.
      Like Nils said, it’s isn’t alcohol or firearms – it isn’t hurting Rausch.

      • Jy Harris

        Yeah, at a net worth of $75 million each, the surviving B-Boys are sure struggling to pay those bills.

        • Nils

          @Jy Harris: You don’t know how much money they have, how much they make and how much they (have to) spend. Even if you have all public information – you never know how much (non-public) childs they have to take care of, you never know how much they are donating, there are so many things you/we can’t consider…

          • Legit

            The fact is this. Respect the dead and theur wishes with there property.

  3. Ryan

    Or it could be they just like how the commercial was funny and decided to help with that end, instead of being sellouts… Oh god the internet will never believe that.

  4. danny

    what a stupid article. what a stupid rationale, what a stupid waste of the 1 min it took me to read and subsequently write this. don’t be an asshole dude… don’t be stupid. seriously wtf does this do for anybody? this is a Reddit opinion/rant passed off as something legit.

  5. asdf

    This isn’t about capitalism or whether licensing is cool or not – but the last, explicit wish of dying individual. The other, living members of the Beastie Boys are grown men, professionals, earning non-synch licensing royalties from content made over decades. They’re wealthy already, and will be so for the rest of their lives. This wasn’t a “we’re desperate and gotta pay the bills” situation at all. In fact, the director of the ad personally implored the remaining members of the group to let him use the song, and they caved. Simple as that. Hypocrites.

  6. Vail, CO

    It’s a victimless crime, sure. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t full of shit!

  7. Truth

    There is another point that this article is missing. They are not allowed to license to advertise a product. They are absolutely allowed to license for art and entertainment. Such as for movies and the one mentioned Star Trek Beyond. Its in the film and allowed to promote it. I can’t speak with certainty, but if the song is in the game, they can us it to promote the game. Defiantly not hypocrites.

    • asdf

      False. Though synch in a film is contextually different from synch in a promo (and it seems MCA’s will would allow for the former), synch in a film does NOT imply permission of use in the promotion of that film. Those rights are always negotiated separately, and promo rights pay a lot more! The use of “Sabotage” in the Star Trek promo trailers were absolutely promo use, advertising a product, ie. the film.

  8. Chris E

    So one of 2 surviving Beastie Boys, Ad Rock, does soundtracks for movies. He was actually part of the crew and worked for Star Trek. So they actually got licensing from the studio I’m sure. Chances are that he is a part of the Destiny 2 movie as well. Look him up on IMDB. And the thing with Monster Energy Drinks is that they used their property without consent.

  9. Anthony7

    Most of the music on their recordings are samples of other people’s music !
    What moral rights do the Biestie Boys have complaining about other people using the music that they themselves sampled !!

    Is this the twilight zone ??

  10. Cash me Outside

    Ahh so what. They found a way to monetize in an industry that drastically changed since that statement was made. At least they didn’t find an adolescent teenager and feature her in a song hahahaha

    PS, movie looks cool.

  11. theo england

    They use beastie boy songs loads on the bbc in the uk personally like hearing in movies ect but energy drink is wack!

    • ade

      that is part of the blanket licence that major broadcasters have – that they still pay for use of tracks but they dont need to seek permission on a use by use basis (which would realistically be impossible)

      this is wholly different – unless the 2 surviving members AND the estate approve the sync use in the trailer, its unauthorised use – pure and simple

  12. Paul Resnikoff Is the hypocrite!

    Paul Resnikoff sells BelCel to Belarus for $40.2 millions USD after losing $40 millions in Belize. Paul Resnikoff is the hypocrite!

  13. steve

    You should be directing your comments to Universal Music Group, which licenses the Beastie Boys’ music.

  14. Chris

    Paul, who the fuck are you to start with this TMZ shit? You really need that money huh. They did what they want and if that changes from a previously stated position, but is not immoral, then fuck off. Nobody died here.

    This used to be a respectable site to get news from, now you just want to be the Gawker of the music biz.

    • Your Sister Keeps Texting Me

      Beastie Boys started with misogynistic white boy party rap and that’s how they got famous. Now they’re shoving Tibet + anti-commercial veganism down our throats.

      Thank you someone for calling these losers out!!

  15. Paul Resnikoff

    A lot of people are blasting me on this piece. I guess for me it boils down to loyalty and your word. Seems like the language in the contract is pretty clear. Actually, exceedingly clear as its written in legal terms to prevent any misunderstanding.

    Without Yauch, there wouldn’t be a Beastie Boys. I’m not trying to grandstand or play moral judge, but, these are commercial uses of the group’s music.

    • Troy

      I think you’re definitely right in that they’re using their song to sell something. However, it’s being done with their permission – unlike Monster, GoldieBlox, etc… they’ve justified it and it’s their call. I have a hard time believing they’d go against Adam’s intent. For example, they’re no longer performing or creating music under the Beastie Boys’ name.. if it was all about the money, why not tour or release new music??