Beastie Boys

Last month, the Kickstarter-funded toy company GoldieBlox made a clever online commercial that used a parody of the Beastie Boys’ 1986 lunkhead classic “Girls” to soundtrack an ad in which little girls build a massive Rube Goldberg device. The one problem: They didn’t get permission from the Beastie Boys, and indeed they couldn’t have done so, since the late Adam Yauch left a provision in his will preventing the Beasties’ songs from being used in commercials. The ad went viral, and when the Beasties made legal inquiries, GoldieBlox filed a preemptive lawsuit looking to get the parody protected under fair-use rules. Two days later, though, GoldieBlox removed the ad and issued an apology in the open letter, pledging to drop their lawsuit as long as the Beasties promised not to sue them. The open letter ended thus: “We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.” Well, they won’t be friends. The Beasties filed a lawsuit yesterday.

As Pitchfork reports, lawyers for the Beasties filed a suit in California, accusing GoldieBlox of “systematic infringement of intellectual property” and using some mighty harsh language:

GoldieBlox achieved and continues to achieve additional publicity, press coverage, and, upon information and belief, greater sales of its products, as a direct result of the Beastie Boys’ perceived affiliation with the GoldieBlox Advertisement. Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others… “The Beastie Boys Parties have suffered and will continue to suffer injury in an amount not presently known… [and] are entitled to recover from GoldieBlox the damages and lost profits they have sustained as a result of GoldieBlox’s unlawful acts of copyright infringement and to recover from GoldieBlox the gains, profits, and advantages GoldieBlox has obtained as a result of the wrongful conduct alleged herein.

The Beastie Boys: Rhymin’ and fiercely protectin’ their intellectual property. Read the full lawsuit here.

Comments (11)
  1. “lost profits they have sustained as a result of GoldieBlox’s unlawful acts of copyright infringement” — *what* lost profits?

  2. It is sort of amazing that at no point during the construction of the song or commercial did the people at GoldieBlox say, “Hey, maybe we should make sure the Beastie Boys are okay with this.”

  3. You know, all those people who would have bought Licensed To Ill but watched the ad instead.

  4. this “additional publicity” is, let’s be honest, largely Beastie Boys’ fault. If they simply dropped the issue, or didn’t pursue it in the first place, than it would not still be making rounds on the news. It’s true, Goldieblox should have asked for permission to parody, maybe, I mean it is a parody, yeah? do you need permission to parody? the melody is not “original”, but the commercial and parody certainly is.
    I dunno, gut reaction is beastie boys are coming off as dicks here.

  5. just realized everyone has moved on from this conversation, probably just talking to myself here.

    • well i thought the whole controversy was pretty cut and dry, ie: beasties are right, but someone over at did a nice writeup defending goldieblox last week. two interesting points:

      1. the beasties have their own history of making music by appropriating other artists’ songs
      2. on the topic of their past misogynistic lyrics they’ve since disowned, “girls” is undoubtedly their bastard child

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