Adam Yauch's will: No ads with my art

Don't expect to ever hear the Beastie Boys in any Budweiser commercial, or any other ad for that matter. From Adam Yauch's will, the relevant sentence, some of which he hand-wrote in: "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes." (via Rolling Stone)


  1. IANAL, but I cannot fathom that this is legally enforceable.  

    It’d be like including a statement in your will that your house cannot be sold.  You’re dead – you don’t legally own anything, including the things you created.  The best that you can do is ask/demand that your estate decline any requests for advertising.  But he can’t bar anyone for the rest of eternity from selling his likeness or his creative work.  What his eventual heirs (etc) end up doing with them in the future is out his hands.

    If it were enforceable, there’s a certain level of arrogance here.  What if, twenty years from now, there’s a new something-or-other (not necessarily a product) that the other Beasties think is cool and in the realm of reasonable?  Would this statement bar them from undertaking it, simply because Yauch put a blanket ban on “advertising”?  Is he barring his estate from being able to make a reasoned decision?

    And, as already pointed out, what of advertising Beastie Boys music itself?  Is that also banned?  (Seeing the original wording would be helpful, but the limited quotation doesn’t define “advertising”.)

    I see what he was going for, and applaud the sentiment.  And I know I”m talking semantics, but this wasn’t the way to do what he’s describing.  His estate could handle this – it doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) an edict in his will.

    1. I have a feeling Mike D & Ad-Rock would have a pretty good idea what would or wouldn’t be cool with MCA, for as long as it should matter…

    2. Whoa that’s a lot of text. It seems like this is more of a statement to the multimedia comglomerates and ad agencies that MCA’s legacy is not theirs to exploit. I am sure his Estate and those who knew him would understand and respect his wish. It seems arrogant to dictate as to how an artist should state his final requests concerning his body of work or how their body of work should be handled.

      1. I don’t think it’s arrogant whatsoever to say that an artist stated his final wishes in a confusing (and arguably unfair) manner.

        He had two ways of doing this.

        1) A confusing way that accomplishes nothing.

        2) A way that actually gets the job done.  (For the record, I’m hoping he also did this.)

        Your saying “it seems like” and “I am sure” is unfair.  That’s your interpretation, not what’s actually written there.  He didn’t say how you’re interpreting it, which was entirely my point.

        The wording here is terrible and leaves everyone, including his friends and peers, confused as to intent.  They have to guess.  That’s awful.

        Not that it matters, but my version of this would be something like:

        “It is my request that my likeness and creative work not be used for the marketing of any product outside of the creative work itself, in the latter case at the discretion of Mike, Adam, and my estate.  I have never wanted to see myself or my work used to sell automobiles, shoes, alcohol, or anything else of that variety.  My work was intended to be enjoyed as entertainment and art, not as marketing. I ask that my peers and heirs (etc) respect this wish.”

        It took me less than five minutes to write that, and I’m neither a lawyer nor someone as strong at writing as Yauch.  Something that important deserves to be written as something more than a pencilled-in afterthought.

        But, more notably, shame on Rolling Stone for writing an article on a pull-quote and providing no context.

        1. it’s actually an interesting legal question, one that i don’t know the answer to, but uglyredhonda starts by comparing the intellectual property issue to a real property issue; in other words, is controlling sale of a home the same as controlling sale of music.  in the world of  property law, there is a “rule against perpetuities” which could prevent someone like the great ad rock from controlling what is done with his real property after his death under some circumstances.  i wonder if the concept could also apply to ip.

    3. I am not a lawyer, but if he placed his assets into a trust, couldn’t the usage of said assets be conditioned upon things like “no advertising with my image/etc?”  I.e., if the beneficiaries of the estate ever used his image in advertising, they would lose access to all funds and assets in the estate.

      There are a lot of ways to control or restrict the usage of assets, and it’s an unbelievably complex area of law.  It seems presumptuous to decide “this can’t work” based on a single sentence excerpt of the will.  Someone like Adam with significant assets is likely to have set up mechanisms for protection and control of those assets.

    4. Probably worth noting the “notwithstanding anything to the contrary” bit – it’s possible there’s provisions for that sort of stuff before it, and this is just a make-it-clear “unless it’s OK it’s not OK” type of section.

  2. It’ll be his grandkids and estate he has to worry about now that family try to keep their  famous bread winners winning bread long after death. Maybe the will helps there.

  3. You’ll have to forgive me for not being an expert in Beastie Boys matters, but does Adam Yauch own sole copyright to the Beastie Boys songs and performances?  Because if not, as my understanding, it doesn’t matter unless the rest of the group agrees… if more than one person jointly owns the copyright to something, then any individual member may allow use of it (as long as the money is shared between the parties), but they all must agree to forbid.  Unless I’m wrong.

  4. I’m pretty sure he was the speaker of the following Beastie lyrics:
    “Cause I’m a spatializer, rhyme reviser
    ain’t selling out to advertisers
    what you get is what you see
    and you won’t see me out there advertising”
    “Well I might stick around or I might be a fad
    but I won’t show myself in no TV ad.”
    Sounds like he meant it.

    Isn’t it a blurred line, though?  Sabotage was in the new(est) Star Trek reboot movie, and it featured in some of the trailers, which is a kind of advertisement.

  5. Any Beastie Boys song played on the radio is an ad for that radio station. Any Beastie Boys song sold is an advertisement for that merchant. Any Beastie Boys song played in a public venue is an advertisement for that venue.

  6. The reason Monster used the BB songs was that one of the artists, DJ Z-Trip, played some BB songs in his set. Monster’s use of the songs to plug their drinks certainly goes against the wishes of Yauch, but was the posting of DJ Z-Trip’s set? If Monster had just posted the set and hadn’t used the songs in an ad, would the estate still be looking for the set to be pulled? Does this mean that any artist with a sponsorship deal can’t use BB songs as a tribute?

  7. “Don’t expect to ever hear the Beastie Boys in any Budweiser commercial, or any other ad”

    He had me at “Don’t expect to hear the Beastie Boys..”  That would be an insanely good thing to happen.

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