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Beastie Boys win $1.7M in copyright case vs. Monster Beverage

By Nate Raymond and Bernard Vaughan

(Reuters) - Beastie Boys' fight for their right to not let Monster Beverage Corp use the hip-hop group's music without their permission resulted in a verdict of $1.7 million on Thursday.

A federal jury in Manhattan issued the verdict on the eighth day of trial in a copyright dispute between members of the Brooklyn-born band and the energy drink maker over songs the band says Monster used without a license in a 2012 promotional video.

The Beastie Boys had sought up to $2.5 million for copyright infringement and false endorsement.

Monster countered that it owed no more than $125,000, calling the case "illogical" and saying an employee had mistakenly believed the company had permission to use the music.

Beastie Boys members Adam Horovitz, or "Ad-Rock," and Michael Diamond, or "Mike D," attended much of the trial and both testified. After the verdict was read, Horovitz hugged his wife, musician Kathleen Hanna.

"We're happy," Horovitz said after the hearing. "We just want to thank the jury."

Reid Kahn, a lawyer for Monster, said the company would appeal.

Filed in August 2012, the lawsuit centered on an online video promoting an annual snowboarding competition the company organizes and sponsors in Canada called "Ruckus in the Rockies."

The video, which Monster uploaded to YouTube, featured the competition and an after-party attended by DJs, including Z-Trip. It included a remix by Z-Trip of Beastie Boys songs, including "Sabotage," "So Watcha Want" and "Make Some Noise."

The four-minute video concluded with a sentence saying "RIP MCA." Adam Yauch, a Beastie Boys member who went by "MCA," died a day before the snowboarding event, after a battle with cancer.

The Beastie Boys complained to Monster in June 2012 and subsequently sued, saying the Corona, California-based company did not have permission to use its music.

"It stole the Beastie Boys' right to say no," Paul Garrity, a lawyer for the band, told jurors at the start of the trial.

Monster acknowledged it had infringed the Beastie Boys' copyrights, but contended it was not done willfully.

"The plaintiffs try to take the undisputed evidence and spin some tale of an insidious corporate conspiracy," Kahn, Monster's lawyer, told jurors Wednesday during closing arguments. (Reporting by Nate Raymond and Bernard Vaughan in New York; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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muleskinner07 June 06 2014 at 2:46 PM

You don't need a degree or talent to be a hip hop or rap singer .

Flag Reply +11 rate up
3 replies
geldonski June 06 2014 at 1:30 PM

Hip-Hop IS NOT MUSIC. For these guys to get rich of the trash they perform sure doesn't say a whole hell of a lot about the people that follow them and give them part of their pay day.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
9 replies
jimd8575 June 06 2014 at 4:59 PM

Cant imagine anyone would want a Beastie Boys song bad enough to steal it let alone pay for it. They should be thrilled someone even remembers them!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Jarred June 06 2014 at 1:41 PM

Yeah, totally fair. Maybe it was an accident but that's what copyright law is for. Also contrary to some people's beliefs on this forum. The Beastie Boys are not just Hip-hop, they are a little of everything. Thats the stuff that breaks down walls and is ultimately why they are such a tremendous success.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
com2pc June 06 2014 at 2:13 PM

Only You Lefty libs would go along with This CRAP.. Its total Bull S_iT.. Beasty boys didnt lose anything for Monster using their crappy Music.. In fact it was Probably the BEST publicity these has beens have had in years.. They should PAY Monster!!
The company said it was inadvertent.. Not done purposely, but by mistake... The company admitted infringement, But did Not agree on this B S and unfair amount..... TOATL B S....

Flag Reply +4 rate up
6 replies
chibblitz June 06 2014 at 10:11 PM

Good for you Beastie Boys, Monster drink sucks btw, RedBull is much better.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Randy June 08 2014 at 2:38 PM

Just goes to show any company should use professionals in their marketing instead of "believing" a "hip hop dj" who says he has obtained all the legal permissions to use a copy written (even as lousy of "music" as it is) materials. Of course since the majority of the Monster "marketing" staff had no marketing experience prior to being hired by Monster, its easy to see how they could have been conned by the hip-hop dj. The brass at Monster will have a few heads roll for the boneheaded move... but for their stockholders benefit, lets hope they learned a valuable lesson - and with more than $2 Billion in sales, $1.7 million is a pretty minor cost for the "mistake".

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Ghetto Cat June 07 2014 at 3:38 AM

These so-called energy drinks of today a toilet tea. They are embarassed by it. JOLT was a drink but unfortunatly was banned by the wussies. Right along with hoverboards because they were too dangerous for kids. Welcome to the Cyrus-Swift-Bieber generation.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
John Albert Walker Ghetto Cat June 08 2014 at 6:23 PM

Jolt Cola was weezled out by the big two companies with taking over-or buying out shelf space in stores-they were limited production company and just could not fight the big dogs--I finally drank my last one in my cache a year ago-GOD I MISS THAT RUSH!!!!

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madddddddddddddd June 06 2014 at 12:42 PM

it seems fair

Flag Reply +2 rate up
petpetdon June 06 2014 at 4:49 PM

Beastie Boys so yesterday and a long, long time ago.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Erne petpetdon June 08 2014 at 7:54 PM

Monster Beverage didn't see it that way.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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