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Monster issues statement as Beastie Boys court case kicks off

By | Published on Wednesday 28 May 2014

Beastie Boys

As expected, the surviving Beastie Boys – Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond – were in court yesterday at the start of their legal battle with the Monster Energy Drink company over the use, without permission, of the rap group’s music in a promotional video. Suited but sneakered, Horovitz took to the stand to discuss the Beastie Boys’ career and successes, and why they were so adamant that their music should not be used in advertising.

What emerged almost immediately is that the Monster Beverage Corp isn’t denying using the Beastie Boys’ music in a promotional video without permission, the dispute is over the sum of money the rappers are demanding, which comes to $2 million consisting of infringement damages for each of the five tracks Monster used in its video, and a million for the unauthorised implied endorsement by the group of the drinks brand.

But Monster argues that, while it accepts it used the Beastie Boys’ music without permission and is therefore liable to pay some damages, a figure in the region of $125,000 is more appropriate. The company say that the unauthorised usage of the music was an honest mistake, that it removed the video once aware of the error, that not that many people saw it, and the way the tracks were used didn’t imply any endorsement.

As the court case got underway yesterday, with plenty of media coverage on the back of Horovitz and Diamond’s presence, the company issued a statement setting out its arguments. Starting by asserted that “Monster has no intention of litigating this matter in the media”, but that it felt it needed to issue a statement because of media interest in the case, the firm stated: “Monster in good faith believed it had obtained the rights to use a compilation of certain Beastie Boys music for an internet video”.

“The video recounted a snowboarding event in Canada that Monster sponsored where the after party featured many Beastie Boys songs played by the DJs in honor of the recent death of one of the Beastie Boys’ members. The music that Monster used was provided by one of the DJs, who told Monster he had permission”.

“When Monster was notified by the Beastie Boys that the company was mistaken in its belief that it had the proper authorisation, Monster immediately removed the video from the internet. The video received less than 14,000 views during the brief period it was online. This lawsuit is solely about what, if anything, Monster must pay to the Beastie Boys because of Monster’s good faith mistake. In Monster’s view the Beastie Boys are demanding sums that are far beyond any reasonable fair market value”.

The case continues.