It is rare for a case to combine energy drinks, copyright law, DJs, rap and snowboarding in Canada. The court’s decision in Beastie Boys v. Monster Energy Co. is such a case.
In this recent decision of the United States District Court (S.D. New York), Monster Energy defended a copyright infringement claim brought by the rap-group Beastie Boys. The Beastie Boys allegations centred around Monster’s use of a remix track, known as Megamix, originally created by the DJ known as Z-Trip. The remix of well-known Beastie Boys hits was created by Z-Trip with the permission of the band - in fact they had invited the DJ to mix the track in 2011 in order to promote a Beastie Boys album.
At a Canadian snowboarding event in 2012, an executive from Monster approached the DJ to get permission to use the remix for Monster’s promotional video of the event. It was these discussions that became the focus of the Court’s analysis of Monster’s defence that it had obtained a license from the DJ for the use of the remix. After producing the video with the remix included, Monster sent a copy to the DJ who responded “Dope!”, as DJs will. Monster took this exclamation as an affirmation of the terms of a license granting permission to use the song for Monster’s promotional purposes. The DJ testified that this term merely expressed approval for how cool he looked in the video. The Court concluded that no reasonable person would consider the term “Dope!” to constitute “clear, unambiguous and unequivocal” acceptance of license terms for the use of the remix. As a result, there was no valid consent or license granted.