Beastie Boys Win $1.7M Copyright Judgment Against Monster Drinks for Ad

Federal Jury Tells Beverage Company: You Be Illin'

Fight for Your Right: Beastie Boys rappers Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond celebrated a big win in a copyright lawsuit against Monster energy drinks.
getty images
Fight for Your Right: Beastie Boys rappers Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond celebrated a big win in a copyright lawsuit against Monster energy drinks.

By Nate Raymond and Bernard Vaughan

Published June 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

(Reuters) — The 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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.