Copyright Infringement Universe Collapses In On Itself As Beastie Boys Sue Monster Energy Drink

So here’s a copyright infringement lawsuit involving the makers of Monster Energy Drink in which they are the ones being sued and not the ones claiming ownership of an incredibly common word. Instead, the beverage company is the target of a lawsuit brought by the Beastie Boys, who claim Monster cobbled together dozens of their tunes to create promotional videos.

According to the suit, filed yesterday in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan:

[Monster], without plaintiffs’ consent, synchronized and recorded certain of the Beastie Boys Musical Compositions and Beastie Boys Sound Recordings together with visual and other material in the creation ofpromotional videos for defendant Monster’s products, including a promotional video for Monster’s promotional event “Ruckus in the Rockies 2012” (the “Video”). The soundtrack of the Video is comprised substantially of excerpts from the Beastie Boys Sound Recordings and the Beastie Boys Musical Compositions totaling more than three minutes in duration.

On information and belief, defendant Monster has used the Video and similar promotional videos to create an association with the Beastie Boys and the Beastie Boys Musical Compositions and Beastie Boys Sound Recordings and defendant Monster’s products, promotional events, and marketing, including on Monster’s website and in various social media websites such as Facebook.

If the video weren’t bad enough, the complaint alleges that in May of this year, “Monster caused a link to a downloadable audio recording (the “MP3″) embodying a 23-minute medley of excerpts from the Beastie Boys Sound Recordings, the Beastie Boys Musical Compositions and the sound recordings and musical compositions comprising the additional Beastie Boys MP3 Copyrights to be posted on various websites [including Monster’s website and YouTube] in conjunction with the Video, together with an offer that the MP3 was available for free download.”

And it doesn’t help Monster’s case that the text accompanying the “Beastie Boys mega mix” reads, “With tracks from the Beastie Boys putting you in the vibe and a sponsorship from Monster Energy, this edit will make you want to ride and party like no other.”

The Boys are seeking an injunction against Monster’s use of the group’s songs, as well as “a trebling
of defendant Monster’s profits and actual damages sustained by plaintiffs, prejudgment interest, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

Speaking of copyright infringement, an urban legend surrounds the Beastie Boys’ seminal 1989 album Paul’s Boutique, claiming that the group swiped all or most of the more than samples used on the album. The Boys have denied these rumors, saying that they did pay for the use of the samples — just not very much, as it was still a somewhat new way of producing an album at the time.

You can read the PDF of the lawsuit HERE.

The lawsuit comes as news outlets report that the last will and testament of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch, who passed away in May, clearly states that the music he wrote and his image could not be used in any sort of advertising.

Huge thanks to Keith for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. MutantMonkey says:

    At least this lawsuit kind of makes sense.

    • AcctbyDay says:

      It makes perfect sense, the fact that monster did this is just plain stupid.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Sounds open and shut to me…especially as MEG was promoting it with by referring directly to the stuff as being from the Beastie Boys.


    • 85% Real 15% Filler says:

      Monster got caught sticking their dick in the mashed potatoes.

  2. Coffee says:

    Wow…this sounds like a legitimate lawsuit…I hope that the Beastie Boys sue them into oblivion so they finally stop making all those damned overpriced cables. This lawsuit has really tarnished the name “Monster” for me…

    • balthisar says:

      Monster Energy Drinks, not Monster Cable.

      I guess I should be cynical and assume that you’re a plant for one or the other so that Monster Cable and Monster Energy Drinks can say that common people can’t tell the difference, thus diluting one another’s trademarks.

      • Coffee says:

        OR I’m trying to egg on Monster Cable to also sue Monster Energy.

        • DaveInBillsburg says:

          Maybe Monster Cable can sue Monster Energy, win and get complete control over the holdings and assets of MEG. Then the Beastie’s suit can proceed and prevail against Monster Cable as the owner of MEG. Be a fantastic way to honor MCA’s memory!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      This is Monster Energy, not Monster cables. Or are they the same company?!?!?!!

      • DuckNCover says:

        Monster Energy Cables are for use only by doctors named “Frankenstein” for the reanimation of hastily cobbled together corpses.

    • zuruifox says:

      Umm..I hope you’re just beig silly. Cause if should be made aware they don’t make those cables.

    • CheritaChen says:

      There seems to be a problem with the sarcasm detector this morning. Someone give the thing a swift kick, please.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::BREAKING NEWS::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    The Rapper 50 Cent has just filed suit against the United States government, Department of the Treasury, and the United States Mint claiming copyright infringement in their production and distribution of half-dollar coins.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      As an update to the breaking news, he has also named 2 quarters, 4 dimes and 2 nickels, 5 nickels and a quarter as well as any othe coin combination equalling $0.50 a 2nd grader can come with in math class in the lawsuit.

  4. vdragonmpc says:

    It seems to be the norm now. I left a scathing review on yelp for the 2 for 25 at Lonestar Steakhouse in Colonial Heights VA. They pulled the same exact crap. Claimed that my meal had the tax added at the top.. But wait they added tax at the bottom too.

    Besides my baked potato having to go back for being petrified and the onion sitting in a 1 inch deep pool of grease in a salad bowl undercooked. I can say it almost was the nastiest meal I was ever overcharged for. But hey they did have good frozen cheesecake for desert.

    We have learned to look for the new restaurants as they seem to be fresh and trying. These older chains simply dont care anymore. Applebees is the next Shoneys.

  5. El_Cheapocabra says:

    What’s sickening is that the campaign was in May, when MCA died. Not only did they steal the music and imply that the artists were endorsing the product, they cashed in on the news coverage of the death (and the uptick in interest in the Beastie Boys). MCA’s illness was announced in 2009, and he was still fighting lymph node cancer throughout 2011. Either way, it’s just a horrible act by horrible people. Did they think that they’d get away with it because the band was preoccupied with MCA’s illness?

    Glad to see Monster getting a taste of its own litigious medicine.

    • CheritaChen says:

      Agreed. Their actions are despicable and I think they should additionally be made to 1) publicly apologize to Yauch’s family and friends, and 2) make a large donation to the cause of his estate’s choice.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Wait, no one… NO ONE…. can use the monster, ever, for any reason, unless it’s Monster Energy Drink. But, Monster Energy Drink can use whatever copyrighted material it sees fit?

    “I present to you today……EXHIBIT A!”
    Pot v. Kettle, 2012

  7. MeowMaximus says:

    I hope they win, and take Monster for millions. Schadenfreude is a tasty dish!

  8. longfeltwant says:

    It’s ironic because the Beastie Boys were themselves sued (many times, I think) for their trailblazing use of samples from the works of other artists. I haven’t heard this particular sound recording, though, so I don’t have an opinion on the similarity of the copyright claims. If Monster specifically mentioned the Beastie Boys in conjunction with their ‘medly’, then that bodes poorly for them.

  9. Kestris says:

    Finally, a legitimate reason to sue someone. Guess Monster is getting a taste of their own medicine now.

  10. Squard says:

    I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan, but they’re full of 5h!t on this.
    In this youtube video: Ad Rock says he would love if someone took his music & beats and made something new with it:

    • Jawaka says:

      I just listened to that interview but if you listen to the few minutes before where you set it to start its clear that he’s talking about other artists sampling on albums and not advertisements.

    • nbs2 says:

      There is a difference.

      Without watching the video at work, this is only supposition, but I’d guess that Ad Rock was referring to artistic use – something along the lines of what the Beastie Boys did with other tracks. Here, there is no artistic use, but rather for commercial purposes – including a statement that suggests that there was some formal cooperation between Monster and the Beastie Boys.

      While you might make an reasonable argument that the work was still artistic in nature, the underlying aspect of the creation was not the development of the work for its own sake, but in the promotion of another product. While the works of the Beastie Boys were created for profit, they were created to profit on the merits of the work, not to promote Beastie Boys merchandise (although later usage to do so would not be enough to wipe out the original intention). While I don’t know what the legal distinction would be, I think my definition is reasonable enough for the ordinary, reasonable, person.

    • bbb111 says:

      “Ad Rock says he would love if someone took his music & beats and made something new with it:”

      There is a big difference between a creative work done as an homage and creating an advertisement or promotional work for a commercial product. [I’m sure the editor/producer of the video treated it like an homage, but I’m sure that Monster Energy just saw the $$$.]

      The homage is a form of collaboration (or for the old folks, “The Folk Process.”) while converting it into a commercial without permission/royalties is theft.

  11. Jawaka says:

    The damages awarded should be significantly more than it would have cost for Monster to legitimately license the music and videos from the Beastie Boys otherwise it’s still worth it in the end for Monster.

  12. JustJayce says:

    “Bailiff please hand me case number 3MTA3. The case of Beastie Boys vs. Monster can now come to order.”

    • hagiograph says:

      Get ready for EXTREME litigation! Whoooooo! The defendants will be represented by extreme lawyer “Handcuff Rose” esq. He will plummet from 5 miles above the earth’s surface and land in the courtroom from whence he’ll submit 500 briefs a minute while completing some sick ollies. This will be one court case NOT to miss! The prosecution will be MixMaster Mike playing an endless loop of the text of Title 17 of the US Code.

  13. RxDude says:

    “I might stick around,
    or I might be a fad,
    but I won’t show myself in no TV ad.”