Last week, toy company GoldieBlox released its “Goldieblox, Rube Goldberg & Beastie Boys Princess Machine” YouTube video, an ad set to the music of the Beastie’s Boys song Girls with reworked lyrics. The video’s positive message to empower girls resulted in the ad going viral, generating more than 8.6 million views.
The only problem is GoldieBlox never received approval from Beastie Boys to use the band’s music.
According to a New York Times report yesterday, GoldieBlox filed a suit against the Beastie Boys to deflect a copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming its version of the song is a parody video made specifically, “To comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.”
In response to the GoldieBlox lawsuit, the Beastie Boys released an open letter arguing that the GoldieBlox video is, in fact, an advertisement and the use of song goes against the band’s longstanding position not to let their music be used for commercial purposes.
Here is a copy of the Beastie Boys letter attributed to surviving band members Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), as it appeared in the New York Times article:
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.
When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
GoldieBlox’s lawsuit was filed last Thursday. Whether or not the courts will side with GoldieBlox and the toy company’s argument that the video is a parody commenting on the song’s original sexist lyrics is yet to be determined.
Update: GoldieBlox says it has removed its parody of the song from the video and offered to withdraw the lawsuit if the Beastie Boys agree not to take any legal action against the toy company. You can read more about GoldieBlox’s response here: “GoldieBlox Offers to Withdraw Lawsuit Over ‘Girls’ Video in a Fan Letter to the Beastie Boys”