It’s not the first lawsuit filed against the Beastie Boys for copyright infringement, but it’s certainly the most ill-timed one.
On May 3 the band Trouble Funk filed papers against Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “MCA” Yauch, along with their labels, claiming that the seminal hip-hop group had illegally used parts of their tracks in the ’80s. The next day, Yauch died from cancer of the salivary gland at the age of 47.
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Yauch’s passing was met with an outpouring of sympathy and support from across the internet and around the world. But Reuters reports that TufAmerica, the company representing Trouble Funk, intends to continue with the lawsuit despite the timing.
TufAmerica claims that its clients’ tracks were unlawfully sampled by the Beasties on the debut album, 1986’s Licensed to Ill, as well as their 1989 followup Paul’s Boutique. Under U.S. copyright law, civil action is to be taken within three years of the offense. However, Reuters points to an argument that could provide a loophole for the plaintiff:
TufAmerica claims they only learned of the infringement recently. Because of advancements in technology, the company says it was finally able to dissect the albums and discover the illegal sampling. If the court goes along with this argument, the statute of limitations might not be a problem for the plaintiff.
However, the Guardian points out that while the lawsuit accuses Yauch, Diamond and Horovitz of “purposely concealing the integration” of the samples into their tracks, the use of Trouble Funk’s songs have been “noted on the website Who Sampled – and on Wikipedia – for some time.” TufAmerica is seeking punitive damages and a permanent injunction forbidding the Beastie Boys from selling recordings that contain their samples.
There has been no comment from the Beastie Boys camp thus far on the lawsuit.