Beastie Boys Dig For Legal Loophole Gold in 'Paul's Boutique' Sample Suit

Rappers say label that sued them for snippets on that legendary album doesn't own the rights

Beastie Boys Trouble Funk
Legal loopholes might put a case to sleep that would have had reaching consequences for copyright law Photo by Getty Images
WRITTEN BY
Sarah Kaufman

The Beasties are on their third date with copyright law, and the two seem to be hitting it off. First, they won $1 million in a settlement with a toy company that used their track, "Girls" in an advertisement. Then, just a week ago, they won $1.7 million from Monster Energy because the beverage drink company used a mashup of five of the rappers' classic songs for a short promotional clip of a snowboarding competition the caffeine-slingers had thrown. 

Now, as Billboard reports, the legally savvy Beastie Boys may have found the loopholes they need to prove that record label TufAmerica has no legal grounds to sue them over samples used on their 1989 classic, Paul's Boutique. A judge initially declined to dismiss the case brought against the group in 2012 for using go-go band Trouble Funk's tracks "Say What" and "Let's Get Small," but the Boys are aiming to prove the plaintiff was wrong for suing in the first place.

Evidently, Island Records and TufAmerica made a deal in 1984 which states that the latter doesn't actually own the copyright to those Trouble Funk tracks. Tuf also sued for publishing rights, but Universal stopped that suit in its tracks, as the band's 1984 agreement with Island led to UMG-Polygram co-owning publishing rights. So, in the words of the summary motion judgment, "TufAmerica cannot pursue an infringement action against a co-owner of the copyrighted works at issue."

This is not the first time TufAmerica has slammed artists for sampling — they’ve done the same thing with the likes of Jay Z, LL Cool J, and Frank Ocean. That said, the Beasties likely won't be in line for further lawsuits anytime soon, as they're effectively done, according to Mike D. In light of that, take a gander at our retrospective, Beastie Boys: 25 Years of Mad Genius.

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