Beastie Boys testify against Monster in Infringement Case. Band member Adam Horovitz appears in court after the group sued the energy drink company over illegal use of their music in a promotional video.
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Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz has appeared in court in New York on Tuesday to give evidence in the Beastie Boys’ legal battle with Monster Energy Drink.
The hip-hop band is suing the beverage maker for more than $2 million for the unauthorized use of a mix by mash-up producer Z-Trip that included their songs “Sabotage”, “Make Some Noise” and “So What’cha Want” in a 2012 promotional YouTube video.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2012, just a few months after the death of band member Adam “MCA” Yauch, who had left specific instructions in his will to prevent the use of his music or image in any advertising.
According to the band’s lawyer Paul Garrity, Monster “stole the Beastie Boys’ right to say no”.
Six months ago, Monster attempted to diffuse their responsibility in the case by implying that Z-Trip gave them permission to use the mix in an equivocal email. Judges at the time called their claims “reckless” and “risible”.
Yesterday, Monster’s lawyer, Reid Kahn, acknowledged that the company “technically did violate the copyright”, but maintained that it was due to an employee’s belief that permission had been granted. “In this case, ” he said, “it turns out to have been a mistake.”
However, he said awarding the band $2 million was “illogical” and Monster should pay $125, 000 at most to cover the five weeks the promotional video – which according to him had been watched fewer than 14, 000 views – was online.
The band contends that the $2 million covers $1 million for use of the songs and another $1 million for an “implied endorsement.”
While cross-examining Horowitz, Kahn professed that despite their claims, the Beastie Boys had previously endorsed products for commercial purposes. He showed the jury a giant poster of Mike “Mike D” Diamond wearing a sailor outfit, shot for an advertising campaign for a watch brand, which elicited some titters from attendees.
When asked to explain why the group refuses to endorse products but licensed its music for the watch company’s snowboarding video, Horovitz retorted that the band memebrs “like sports”, adding that Diamond was friends with the company’s owner and that the proceeds were destined for charity.
The case is supposed to last five or six days.
This is the second time this year the Beastie Boys have been in engaged against a company for unauthorized use of their music. In March, the band filed suit against the toy company GoldieBlox for using a parody of their 1987 song “Girls” in a commercial. That matter was settled out of court.
Adam Keefe Horovitz, son of Jewish playwright Israel Horovitz, was born and raised in Manhattan, New York.
He began his music career with a stint in the punk rock band the Young and the Useless, and in 1982, at the age of 16, joined the Beastie Boys following the departure of their previous guitarist, John Berry.
The band was signed to Def Jam, and released their debut album “Licensed to Ill” in 1986. The album was a huge commercial success, and spawned six hit singles. Seven further albums followed, and by 2010 the Beastie Boys had sold 22 million records in the United States alone, and 40 million worldwide. In 2012, the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In addition to his work with the Beastie Boys, Horovitz also remixes tracks for other artists under the alias 41 Small Stars, and he has also acted in several motion pictures and television shows, including “Lost Angels” (1989) and “Godspeed” (2007).