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Ad-Rock Takes Stand in Beasties-Monster Lawsuit Trial

Beastie Boys sued the energy drink company in 2012 for using their music in video campaign

May 28, 2014 10:10 AM ET
Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horowitz and Michael 'Mike D' Diamond of the Beastie Boys
Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horowitz and Michael 'Mike D' Diamond of the Beastie Boys.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Back in August 2012, Beastie Boys Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp., after the energy drink company used five of the legendary hip-hop group's songs in a promotional video. The clip – published online days after the death of founding Beastie Adam "MCA" Yauch – conflicted with the late rapper's will, which stated that his likeness or art (including Beastie Boys material) can not be used in any advertisements. The case went to trial Wednesday in Manhattan, with Ad-Rock taking the stand first, according to a report from Billboard.

Adam Yauch: The Videos of Nathaniel Hornblower

The video in question, titled "Ruckus in the Rockies," was created by Monster for a snowboarding event held in Canada and includes a "Beastie Boys Megamix" (featuring the classics "Sabotage," "So What'cha Want," "Pass the Mic," "Make Some Noise" and "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun") created by DJ Z-Trip. Toward the end of the video, the words "RIP MCA" appeared on the screen in a typeface similar to that used in the company's logo. Ad-Rock and Mike D are seeking $1 million in damages for the song usage and an additional $1 million for "implied endorsement" of being featured in the clip; the defense called their misuse a "mistake," but labeled the group's large monetary suit as "nonsense." 

When Ad-Rock took the stand, he traced the Beasties' career, saying the trio were "very lucky" and explaining their lengthy artistic process. Billboard notes that the proceedings were filled with awkward smiles and explanations of terms (like "dope") used in hip-hop culture; but Ad-Rock was reportedly quite amused when the defense asked him to identify Mike D (dressed as a sailor) in several images used in a watch ad. The case is expected to last one week.

This isn't the Beasties' only recent lawsuit. In March, the group settled a legal battle with toy company GoldieBlox over a viral video campaign that parodied the group's goofy 1987 track "Girls." As part of the settlement, the company issued an apology on their website and made a donation to a charity of the group's choosing.

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