Turns out, the word “Dope!” is not legally binding terminology. That’s what Monster Energy found out this week, when a lawsuit against DJ Z-Trip regarding a mashup of Beastie Boys songs was tossed out and referred to as “reckless” and “risible” by a U.S. District judge after the company attempted to pin a copyright claim on Z for responding to an email with the word in question. Calling something dope, it seems, is not the same as granting copyrights to a company for use of licensed tracks and names.
The story, as reported by SPIN last night, stems from an after party for Monster’s “Ruckus In The Rockies” Snowboarding Competition in Canada, at which the company paid Z-Trip $15K to perform. Afterward, Monster made a recap clip of the party, included a free download of a mix that Z had made to promote the Beasties’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (and which included multiple Beasties songs), and emailed Z asking if he approved of the video, to which he replied, “Dope!” The company then posted the video to YouTube with the song snippets and added a “RIP MCA” tag at the end, which led to the Beasties legal team taking action. The video was removed, and the group’s lawyers sued Monster for copyright infringement.
Monster then filed a lawsuit last October alleging breach of contract and fraud against Z-Trip, both of which were pinned on his one-word email response. The judge laughed, and released a scathing opinion yesterday saying, among other things, “No reasonable person could understand Z-Trip to have granted Monster the rights necessary,” and, “It would take an heroic effort of explication to derive such a conclusion from their words and informal email exchanges.”
Head over to SPIN to see the full story. The Beasties are still suing Monster, but Z-Trip is laughing his way out of this situation.