Rather unexpectedly, it wasn't the band who launched the copyright lawsuit.
The viral GoldieBlox ad, which flipped a Beastie Boys song on its head is pretty admirable, but that doesn’t save it from violating copyright. This is what the Boys themselves claim in an open letter to the toy company, which to their credit, acknowledges the ad’s creativity and admirable message. The open letter was first released by the New York Times.
The Boys have objected against the commercial use of Girls.
“We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering,” the Beastie Boys explain. The message continues on a less positive note: “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.”
The band members are referring to a preemptive lawsuit launched by GoldieBlox on Thursday, citing their own right to use the music in a video, because the company had “created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.”
Watch the video in question below:
Under copyright law, a parody does constitute fair use, but a creative work cannot be used for commercial purposes. This means that the lawsuit could go either way. The song in question is a 1986 Beastie Boys ditty with a rather misogynistic ring to it:
“Girls to do the dishes
Girls to clean up my room
Girls to do the laundry
Girls and in the bathroom.”
It’s not a well-thought out message in any way, but the GoldieBlox jingle changes it to:
“Girls build a spaceship
Girls code the new app
Girls that grow up knowing
That they can engineer that.”
Sexist? Check out the original of 'Girls':
Add to that some footage of industrious young ladies dismantling their stereotypically pink and humdrum toys to build a Rube Goldberg machine and you’ve got yourself an adorable viral video, which has so far amassed over 8 million views on Youtube. While the Beastie Boys letter doesn’t explicitly mention copyright law, GoldieBlox claim that the band’s lawyers have threatened them with “infringement.” Representatives of the company are yet to comment on this most recent missive from the band.
Who is in the right here?