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Universal sues Monster over unauthorised Beastie Boys songs use

By | Published on Friday 26 September 2014

Beastie Boys

Oh, well Monster Energy Drink just can’t catch a break, can it? Having been ordered to pay the Beastie Boys $1.7 million for copyright infringement earlier this year, the brand is now facing legal action from the band’s label and publisher, both now Universal subsidiaries. Capitol Records and Universal-Polygram International Publishing launched their own legal action this week, seeking $1.2 million in damages.

As previously reported, Monster used five Beastie Boys tracks mixed by DJ Z-Trip in a promotional video for a snowboarding event it was sponsoring, shortly after the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. The rapper, of course, stated in his will that none of his music could ever be approved for use in advertising.

Monster conceded that it had used the music without permission, but said that this had been an error and that it had believed that permission had been granted. The document the company believed it had approving the use of the music was an email from Z-Trip to the marketing agency which created the video simply saying, “DOPE!”

Having failed to convince the court that $125,000 was a much more reasonable damages figure, Monster was told it would have to pay $1.7 million (still less than the $2 million the Beasties were pushing for) – half for the five copyright infringements, half for the implied endorsement of Monster from the group’s surviving members.

The drinks company has said that it will appeal, but now it has to contend with this new lawsuit, which sees Universal come forward to seek its cut of the action, as the other owner of copyrights in the songs used.

Neither side has yet commented on the case.