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Boys: You gotta fight for copyright

It's a rap - The Beastie Boys have won 1.7 million dollars (£1m) in a copyright case against the maker of Monster Energy drink.

The ruling in New York ends a case in which the two surviving members of the band made clear their staunch opposition to the use of their music in commercial endorsements.

"We're happy," rapper Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz said after the federal court jury in Manhattan returned its verdict following a day of deliberations.

Beverage maker Monster Energy, based in Corona, California, had admitted wrongly using Beastie Boys songs in a video that was online for five weeks, but insisted it should owe no more than 125,000 dollars (£74,400). The Beastie Boys had sought two million dollars (£1.1m).

Horovitz clasped his wife's hand tightly in the first row of spectator seating as the judge read aloud a verdict in which jurors found Monster had committed willful copyright infringement involving five songs - Sabotage, So Watcha Want, Make Some Noise, Pass The Mic and Looking Down The Barrel of A Gun.

Jurors chose to award 120,000 dollars for each of 10 copyright violations and also awarded an additional 500,000 dollars after finding that Monster used the bands' persona without permission, suggesting a false endorsement of Monster's products.

The sometimes light-hearted New York rappers were humourless at the trial, with Horovitz sitting intently through evidence and deliberations for a case he clearly took seriously. As it became clear the band was getting almost everything it asked for, Horovitz nodded in agreement with several of the findings and hugged his wife after the verdict.

Outside court, he said the band wanted to thank the jury. Jurors had already left the building, with each of them declining comment.

Lawyers for Monster said the company would appeal.

The eight-day trial featured evidence from Horovitz and bandmate Michael "Mike D" Diamond. Another member of the band, gravel-voiced rapper Adam "MCA" Yauch, died in 2012 at 47 after a battle with cancer.

Horovitz told the court the legendary hip-hop group would never license songs to endorse commercial products and Diamond said the band was protective of and dependent for revenue on its existing catalogue of music since Yauch died.

"We cannot tour. We cannot make recordings," he said.

The Beastie Boys, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, have turned out four No 1 albums and sold more than 40 million records as they helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream over the last three decades.

In 1986, they topped the charts with their debut, Licensed to Ill, which includes the anthem (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)


From Belfast Telegraph