The Beastie Boys have always been vocal about their refusal to license their music for TV commercials, but I’d thought they’d made an exception for the Princess Machine, a girls’ toy that puts big emphasis on engineering rather than, like, sparkles. The toy commerical used a feminist flip on the Beasties’ Licensed To Ill knucklehead anthem “Girls,” perhaps ironically bringing the song more in line with the group’s present-day politics, and it went extremely viral in the process. But no, it turns out that the toy company GoldieBox did not license “Girls,” and now the Beasties may sue the company for copyright infringement.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, last week GoldieBox preemptively filed a lawsuit making the case that the video is allowable under fair-use laws that give First Amendment protection to parodies. (That’s how 2 Live Crew got away with doing a nastified version of Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman” once upon a time.)
In a statement today, the Beasties say that they’re “impressed by the creativity and the message” of the ad, but that they still aren’t going to let it slide. Here’s their open letter:
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.
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out, since the ad is both obviously a parody and obviously an commercial — it’s out there to sell toys, not to parody a regressive song for parody’s sake. Whatever happens, though, the song is still adorable. Observe: