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Beastie Boys v. Monster Energy
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
983 F. Supp. 2d 338 (2013)
In 2012 Monster Energy (defendant) hosted its annual snowboarding competition and an after-party in Canada. Monster Energy contracted with Zach Sciacca (Z-Trip), a famous remix DJ, to perform at the after-party. Before the performance, Nelson Phillips, a director at Monster Energy, asked Z-Trip whether he possessed any music that Monster Energy could use for a web video of that year’s snowboarding competition. Z-Trip told Phillips that there was a megamix of the Beastie Boys’ (plaintiff) songs on his website downloadable for free. The Beastie Boys had permitted Z-Trip to create a remix of their music for their fans. The day after the event, Phillips and Z-Trip had another conversation over breakfast in which Phillips told Z-Trip that he would send Z-Trip the video and not publish the video until Z-Trip approved of it. On May 8, Phillips sent Z-Trip an email with the link for the video, to which Z-Trip replied the video was “[d]ope” and suggested adding a link to download the video. On May 9, Phillips sent Z-Trip another email indicating the video had been posted on YouTube. Z-Trip’s response to this email was also “[d]ope.” When the Beastie Boys discovered that Monster Energy had posted a video using their songs without their permission, the Beastie Boys sued Monster Energy for copyright infringement, among other claims. Monster Energy then filed a cross-complaint against Z-Trip alleging that their conversations and email exchanges constituted a contract in which Z-Trip represented that he had the authority to grant Monster Energy a license to use the Beastie Boys’ music. Monster Energy alleged breach of contract and sought indemnification and damages from Z-Trip. Z-Trip denied the existence of a contract. Z-Trip indicated that he thought Phillips was seeking his approval because of Monster’s use of his image in the video, and he had no idea Monster Energy would not seek the necessary approvals from the Beastie Boys regarding licensure to use their music. With the Beastie Boys’ support, Z-Trip moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Engelmayer, J.)
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