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Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock Testifies in Suit Against Monster Beverage Company

Matt Cardy, Getty Images

It’s been quite evident since the death of Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch that the living members of the band intend on honoring his wishes that the band’s music not be used in ads or commercials of any kind. Monster Beverage Company has found that out first hand as a lawsuit filed by the group against the company has now gone to trial, with Beastie Boys member Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz taking the stand on the first day.

According to Billboard, the case centers around a video posted by Monster of a snowboarding event the company had sponsored. In the video titled ‘Ruckus in the Rockies,’ portions of DJ Z-Trip’s Beastie Boys megamix soundtracked the action. Z-Trip had been hired to perform at the event, and portions of ‘Sabotage,’ ‘Pass the Mic,’ ‘Make Some Noise,’ ‘So What’cha Want’ and ‘Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun’ turned up in the video.

At the time of his death, Yauch’s will stated that his likeness or art, including his work with the Beastie Boys, was not to be used for advertising purposes and the event in question took place shortly after his passing. In addition to the music, the video features an ‘RIP MCA’ rendering in a typeface similar to Monster’s logo.

The defense did state that they had infringed on the Beastie Boys’ work, but added that the claim of $1 million in damages for the song licenses and another million for “implied endorsement” was “nonsense.” They also stated that the misuse was “mistake” and that damages should be considerably less than those sought by the prosecution.

During his time on the stand, Ad-Rock spoke of his music career and offered details about the artistic process. He added that the five songs used were “very important to our catalog.” As the defense got their shot at Ad-Rock, they tried to assert that the band’s claims of never licensing their work were simply not true. One of the exhibits was a photo of Mike D. in a sailor suit for a watch promotional campaign, with the defense asking Ad-Rock if it was indeed Diamond wearing the sailor uniform. “He sure is,” smiled Ad-Rock as the poster was displayed.

The case, which is taking place in Manhattan, is expected to take the better part of a week to complete. Beastie Boys also have a suit filed against Goldieblox over a toy ad. For more on that case, click the button below.

Update: After stories about the court case hit the wires, Monster Energy Drink issued a statement on the case which can be read below:

Monster has no intention of litigating this matter in the media, but since the case has now received publicity we felt we should let the public know the facts as we see them. 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 [Z-Trip], 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 authorization, 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.

Beastie Boys File Suit Against Goldieblox Over 'Girls' Video

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