(Adds Monster comment and planned appeal, paragraph 7)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday refused to throw out Beastie Boys’ $1.7 million jury verdict against Monster Beverage Corp over the energy drink company’s use of the hip-hop group’s music in a promotional video without permission.
In a 69-page decision, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said there was “ample basis” to believe the video could confuse people into believing incorrectly that Beastie Boys, a 2012 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had endorsed Monster energy drinks.
He also said jurors could infer that Monster intended to deceive viewers and benefit from its apparent association with a group “particularly popular among young men, Monster’s target demographic.”
The roughly four-minute “megamix” video was put together by the disk jockey Z-Trip, and included excerpts from five Beastie Boys songs.
Monster conceded shortly before the trial that it was liable for copyright infringement, but that Beastie Boys didn’t deserve the $2.5 million of damages it sought.
Engelmayer concluded that the eventual $1.7 million award on June 5 did not “shock the conscience,” and could be left intact.
Reid Kahn, a lawyer for Monster, said in an email: “We disagree with the court’s decision and the jury verdict and we intend to appeal.”
A lawyer for Beastie Boys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beastie Boys members Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond testified at the trial. The group’s third member, Adam “MCA” Yauch, died in May 2012. The lawsuit began three months later. Monster is based in Corona, California.
The case is Beastie Boys et al v. Monster Energy Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-06065. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)