An important IP-rule: clear third party IP rights in your (digital) media before making them public. The reason? How about 667.849 reasons! That’s the amount of dollars the band The Beastie Boys was awarded after Monster Energy used parts of their songs without permission.
So, what happened?
Monster Energy – the energy drink giant – ran a promotional video on its website that used small portions of five Beastie Boys songs as the soundtrack. It also included a number of other references to the group.
The remix was produced by a DJ named “Z-Trip”, who signed an agreement back in 2011 with the Beastie Boys to create the remix and use it as a free promotional item. Selling of licensing the remix was not part of the deal though.
A year later, in 2012, Monster Energy used Z-Trip’s remix in its promotional video. A company employee sent sent the video to Z-Trip for review, who merely responded like DJ’s do: “Dope!”. Monster Energy later claimed it believed Z-Trip’s “Dope!” remark, granted Monster Energy the necessary rights to use the remix in its video. However, Monster Energy had never obtained authorization from the actual rights-holder, The Beastie Boys.
The result: willful copyright infringement and false endorsement. Last month, the court ordered Monster Energy to pay the Beastie Boys USD 667.849,14 in attorney’s fees. It pays off to fight for your right (to party).