In what must be one of the most unfortunate timings of the year, The Beastie Boys are being sued for copyright infringement in the USA just days beforethe death of one of the trio of rappers, Adam “MCA” Yauch, was announced.
Tuf America, a hip-hop and R&B label based in America, alleges that The Beastie Boys sampled tracks that Tuf America owned the copyright to on its Paul’s Boutique and Licensed to Ill albums. Specifically, Tuf America is alleging that The Beastie Boys utilised samples from “Drop the Bomb” by Trouble Funk in their songs “Hold It Now Hit It” and “The New Style” (on the Licensed to Ill album) and used Trouble Funk lyrics in another song of theirs, “Say What” (on the Paul’s Boutique album).
As well as The Beastie Boys, their record label Capitol Records is also being sued.
However, Paul’s Boutique and Licensed to Ill were published in the 1980’s, prior to the coming into force of the current relevant copyright statute in the United States. Tuf America, however, is attempting to retrospectively apply these laws to the initial publication of The Beastie Boys’ albums.
Under UK copyright law, The Beastie Boys’ tracks would have to have a de minimis degree of originality to avoid infringing the copyright of another work by sampling it.
If you have an intellectual property law issue then please contact one of our specialist solicitors today.