Radio.com report that Beastie Boys Win $1.7 Mil From Monster Energy In Copyright Suit. The infringing work was made in 2012, it was a promotional snowboarding video with a remix by DJ Z-Trip featuring the Beastie’s songs “Sabotage,” “So Watcha Want” and “Make Some Noise.” The video was four minutes long, and ended with a "RIP MCA" super, as he had passed away the day before the video was uploaded. Monster claimed that they believed they had permission to use the music, and their lawyer said they owed the band a maximum of $125,000. Beastie boys originally sought $2.5 million for copyright infringement and false endorsement. After an eight day trial, the judge ordered Monster Energy to pay $1.7 in damages. Monster may indeed be huge Beastie fans, and someone probably thought making a tribute to MCA / Adam was a great idea - but they forgot that a brand using Beasties music is implying endorsement from the men who never wanted their music used in advertising. The footage was from a live set by DJ Z-Trip performing at the Canadian festival Ruckus in the Rockies, and it was available on Monster's website, along with a 23-minute medley of Beastie Boys songs made available for download as an MP3.
According to the legal opinion dismissing Z-Trip's involvement in the case last November, the presiding judge noted a Monster employee had sent Z-Trip a rough cut of a video using his Beastie Boys megamix. When Z-Trip replied, in part, "Dope!," the employee interpreted that to mean he had permission to run the video on Monster's website. Z-Trip testified that he was merely "convey[ing] that I liked how I appeared in the video."
A bulk of the opinion was spent on defining the legal definition of the word "dope" and if it legally constituted a license for Monster to use the video. As the court notes, "In proper context, the word 'Dope!' could certainly be taken as an expression, albeit unorthodox, of approval and acceptance of another’s antecedent offer," the court said. "But here, Z-Trip’s exclamation, 'Dope!' was in response to [the] query, 'Please have a look at the video from this past weekend and let me know if you approve.'
"Viewed in this context, Z-Trip’s response of 'Dope!' plainly communicated that, in some sense, he 'approve[d]' of 'the video.' But such approval is quite distinct from conveying assent to a mutual exchange of promises or other consideration. And it certainly did not convey that Z-Trip had authority to approve, on behalf of the Beastie Boys, a free license to Monster to use the Beastie Boys’ recordings and songs."
Moral of the story: "Dope!" does not a legally binding licence make.
Previously, we wrote about erasing the line between "disruptive" and "douchebaggery", when Goldieblox used Beastie Boys music without seeking permission. We weren't the only ones to float the idea that Goldieblox did it to get "free PR" from the controversy it caused. Seems the ad business could use a refresher course on securing rights to sound and images before editing stuff together for their branded content channels.