Beastie Boys Respond to GoldieBlox ‘Girls’ Video Lawsuit (Updated)

Beastie Boys Respond to GoldieBlox 'Girls' Video Lawsuit (Updated)

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Toy company claims that rap group's lawyers are trying to crush spoof video

Update, Monday, 9:30 a.m.:

Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond have responded to the GoldieBlox lawsuit, saying that they were “very impressed with the creativity” of the video, and they support its message — but adding that it was still wrong to use their song “Girls” without permission.

They aren't too thrilled with the fact that GoldieBlox took a sue-first approach, either. (An individual familiar with the situation told TheWrap that no complaint or demand letter had been filed against GoldieBlox.)

Read Horovitz and Diamond's full response to the suit below.

“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.”

Previously…

The Beastie Boys have a real legal issue over a joke song on their hands.

The group is being sued by a toy manufacturer that claims the Beasties are trying to shut down a video that lampoons the group's song “Girls.”

Also read: Beastie Boys Lawsuit: Judge Sabotages Monster Energy's Counter-Claim

In the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California on Thursday, toymaker GoldieBlox says it's been threatened with legal action over its video, which recasts the Beasties song “Girls” — characterized as “highly sexual” in the lawsuit — as a message of female empowerment.

GoldieBlox says that it is “founded upon the principle of breaking down gender stereotypes, by offering engineering and construction toys specifically targeted to girls.”

Also read: Beastie Boy Adam Yauch Banned Commercial Use of His Music in Will

In keeping with that philosophy, the complaint says, the GoldieBlox video features girls rejecting stereotypical playtime activities and instead creating “a highly creative and complex Rube Goldberg mechanism.”

The lyrics are similarly altered to reflect the options available to females, including, “Girls to build the spaceship/Girls to code the new app/Girls to grow up knowing/That they can engineer that.”

Also read: Beastie Boys Sued Over Alleged ‘Paul's Boutique,’ ‘License to Ill’ Samples

(By contrast, the lyrics to the Beastie Boys original read, in part, “Girls — to do the dishes/Girls — to clean up my room.”)

The suit, which also names Island Def Jam Music Group, Brooklyn Dust Music, producer Rick Rubin and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Group, says that lawyers for the Beastie Boys have since claimed that the parody constitutes copyright infringement, and falls outside the scope of fair use.

See video: Beastie Boys: The Lost ‘Chappelle's Show’ Performance

GoldieBlox is suing to “clarify the rights of the parties, and to refute the baseless assertion of copyright infringement finally and definitively.” They also want declaratory judgment stating that the video is a parody that falls under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the toy company. TheWrap regrets the error. 

  • Tracy Emert

    You can spoof a song or parody a video… but NOT to sell your own products. If they want to use the song to up their profits, then they should have permission and a payment plan to the Beastie Boys.

    • Erst

      Under fair use in copyright law, if the song is deemed a legitimate parody, then whoever owns the rights to the song can license or sell it for whatever purpose they want. The question is whether it is a parody or a derivative work. If it is the latter, they would have to pay the Beastie Boys. The toy company has a good case. The question is, who made the parody and what were their motivations? If the company hired someone specifically to make the song for a commercial, it would hurt their argument.

  • Robert Guilfoyle

    The Beasties should win – this is appalling, and not fair use.

  • jacksonm

    A parody is done for the sake of comedy only. If you are using this in a business context, to advertise your product, it is very very very much the essence of copyright violation.

  • All you really need is girls.

    This flap brought me back to the song again after years. I never realized when I was young how terrible that song was. Such a terrible way to portray girls as servants and pets. I am personally grateful for Goldieblocks salvaging the song and turning it into something uplifting over something demoralizing to girls and women everywhere.

  • John

    It's clear most of you have no understanding of what constitutes parody. If the toy company were using their recorded song, or a recording by other artists using the same lyrics and music, then there would be a basis to copyright infringement, but that's clearly not the case. Being involved in a commercial enterprise has nothing to do with the definition of parody. It's irrelevant. Even if it is done for commercial purposes does not mean it is not protected fair use. Look at National Lampoon magazine. Look at how Weird Al has made a career out of music parody (and he hasn't been the only one). Yeah, I know he gets permission, but that's only to avoid potential litigation. Doing something that's Constitutionally protected free speech doesn't keep you from getting sued.