Beastie Boys' $845,000 Legal Fee Award Will Be Cut

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

July 13 — The Beastie Boys will have to settle for less than the $845,000 in legal fees that a court ordered paid to them, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled July 12 ( TufAmerica, Inc. v. Diamond , 2016 BL 223961, S.D.N.Y., No. 12-3529, 7/2/16 ).

The fee award should be reconsidered to “prevent manifest injustice” because the company that sued the venerable hip hop group for copyright infringement—and lost—is in dire financial condition, the court said. It ordered the parties to meet and work out a more appropriate sum.

Source Material:

TufAmerica, Inc. v. Diamond

Complaint: May 3, 2012

Summary Judgment: March 24, 2015

TufAmerica Inc. sued the Beastie Boys in 2012, alleging that tracks from their 1989 album “Paul's Boutique” improperly sampled certain funk music recordings from a few years before.

However, in March 2015, the court ruled that TufAmerica didn't have standing to bring its infringement claims because it wasn't the copyright holder or its exclusive licensee (59 ptd, 3/27/15).

Section 505 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §505, allows a court to order the loser in a copyright infringement case to pay the winner's legal fees. The Beastie Boys won such an award.

But TufAmerica moved for reconsideration, pleading that it would go out of business if it had to pay the full amount. After looking at the plaintiff's financial documents, the court agreed that a lower award would be appropriate.

Judge Alison J. Nathan issued the court's ruling.

Zarin & Associates P.C. represented TufAmerica. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP represented the Beastie Boys.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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