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Court Won’t Review Beastie Boys Lawsuit

June 13, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Beastie Boys might have to fight for their right to party, but they won’t have to defend themselves against claims they stole part of a jazz flutist’s recording.

Without comment Monday, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling against jazz artist James W. Newton. Newton contended that the punk rappers’ 1992 song ``Pass the Mic″ included a sample from his musical composition ``Choir″ without his full permission.

The Beastie Boys paid a licensing fee for the six-second, three-note segment of Newton’s work but failed to pay an additional fee to license the underlying composition.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss Newton’s lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. The appeals court reasoned that the short segment in ``Pass the Mic″ was not distinctive enough to be considered Newton’s work.

Several members and representatives of the jazz and independent artists community _ including the American Composers Forum, the Electronic Music Foundation and Meet the Composer _ had filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief in support of Newton.

They urged the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of copyright law, given the growing practice of digital sampling, or recording a portion of a previously existing song, they say increasingly infringes on their ownership rights.

The Beastie Boys burst onto the national music scene in 1986 with their No. 1 album ``License to Ill,″ which featured the party anthem ``Fight for Your Right (to Party).″

The case is Newton v. Diamond, 04-1219.

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