The Beastie Boys lawsuit couldn’t have arrived at a more inopportune moment. One day before Adam “MCA” Yauch died from cancer, record label Tuf America dropped a legal bombshell on the group: A few of the songs appearing on both “License to Ill” and “Paul’s Boutique” contain unlicensed samples, and the company wants their money. Never mind that both albums were released decades ago — Capitol Records and the Beastie Boys are still making money off both releases, and the label wants their slice of the proverbial pie.
The songs allegedly containing unlicensed material from the R&B group Trouble Funk are “Hold It Now Hit It”, “The New Style”, “Car Thief”, and “Shadrach”, all of which are well-known ditties to fans of the pioneering rap group. Tuf America apparently came to this conclusion after an extensive investigation, which, as far as I can tell, took several long years to complete. The company hopes to take the matter to court in order to figure out how much money in punitive damages they can weasel out of the Beasties and Capitol Records.
Of course, I use the word “weasel” as though Tuf America’s claims are unfounded. Maybe it’s the mourning fan in me talking, but it seems kind of shady that it’s taken the label this long to figure out some of their tunes have been used without permission. It’s not like the Beastie Boys or their albums are deeply obscure, accessible to only those who are cool enough to discover them. No, “License to Ill” and “Paul’s Boutique” have sold scores of copies, so it’s anybody’s guess what took them so long to put this puzzle together.
What do you think about the situation? Have the Beastie Boys utilized uncleared samples, or is Tuf America just looking to line their pockets with money made from established, legitimate artists? Feel free to fill our comments section with your thoughts and feelings.