Well, this is weird. Just hours after we wrote about Adam Yauch’s will explicitly specifiying that he didn’t want any Beastie Boys songs to be used in commercials, here comes news that the Boys are suing Monster Energy for that exact reason. Prefix’s own Molly O’Brien even ventured a guess that “you probably won’t hear ‘Sabotage’ in a Dr. Pepper commercial anytime soon,” but apparently you could have heard that in a Monster Energy drink commercial.
According to Hip Hop DX, Monster used “Sabotage”–along with other Beastie staples “So Watcha Want” and “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun”–without properly licensing them. The songs were used in an ad for Monster’s 2012 Ruckus In The Rockies event, which took place last May. Here’s what the Beastie Boys’ lawsuit argues: “The text accompanying Monster’s internet postings, video and MP3 conveyed to consumers the impression that Beastie Boys permitted the use of their name and intellectual property, and participated in connection with Monster’s promotion of its products and events.”
But the lawsuit isn’t as clear cut as that. As Hollywood Reporter points out, the Ruckus In The Rockies took place just a day after Yauch died. Many of the DJs on the bill paid tribute to Yauch by mixing his songs into their sets, which Monster then turned into a mixtape that soundtracked the ad. Are the Beasties suing Monster for doing the same thing that they themselves made a career out of (and constantly fought for)–sampling?
Yes and no. The case seems to hinge on the video aspect, which “sychronized” the Beastie Boys with Monster’s products without getting the proper rights. It’s not so much the music that’s the problem–it’s the fact that fans could be “confused into believing that plaintiffs sponsored, endorsed and are associated with defendant Monster,” per the lawsuit.