It seems that Monster has committed copyright infringement by using the music of the Beastie Boys to promote their product. In this battle, the boys come out on top, winning over one and a half million dollars in their lawsuit. Initially requesting over two million in damages for false endorsement, the mega energy drink conglomerate shot back that 125 thousand was the max that they would pay. They go on to state that an employee believed that they had the rights to use the music, and that it is ‘”llogical” to expect more. Most companies of this magnitude would require iron clad approval in writing, so barring that authorization is ti ‘illogical’ to think that the boys would keep quiet and roll over for what amounts to be a token? An attorney for the drink company stated that they have respect for the verdict, but disagree strongly with it. That being said they will be filing an appeal and want to resolve the issue in a fair manner, and they do not believe over a million dollars is fair, as this was legitimate mistake.
The Beastie Boys did not deem it necessary to comment after winning in court, however a general comment was made that they were happy and that they thanked the jury. The guys began the lawsuit in 2012 after the un-timely death of Adam “MCA” Yauch. The suit included his widow along with the remaining members. The suit explained that Monster used parts of four different songs in a video and that it was posted was on their website. The promotional ad included a medley of the groups songs lasting over 20 minutes, and was also made available for download by fans. The footage was shot at a Monster sponsored event in Canada and includes the late Yauch, who was specific in his will that the Beastie Boys music could not be used for advertisements.
It seems that an employee sent a cut of the video to a member of the group and the band members reply was “Dope,” so the employee took that as permission to use it on the Monster website. Much of the debate in court was over the actual definition of the word dope, and if it actually gave Monster the license to use the video footage. However the email simply asked if the video footage from the weekend jam was OK, and if they approved. Thus making the employee wholeheartedly believe he had the groups approval when he received the reply of “dope.” The judge viewed this verbal exchange and ruled that the drink company most certainly did not have the band’s approval, and that the single band member could not give authority for approval on behalf of the band. Along with that he ruled that this one word certainly did not convey to Monster that they had license to use the recordings and songs on their website.
The complaint went on to say that consumers believed that the Beastie boys were endorsing Monster, and were in fact associated with the energy drink giant. Part of the lawsuit requires Monster to remove the video and the ability to download it from their website.
by Kristi Cereska