Business News Legal

Beastie Boys respond to GoldieBlox lawsuit

By | Published on Tuesday 26 November 2013


Beastie Boys have hit out at an American toy company called GoldieBlox over the use of a parody of their song ‘Girls’ in a new advert, and a pre-emptive lawsuit the company has launched against them. The new version of the song twists the sexist lyrics of the original to one more fitting with GoldieBlox’s aim to make toys that encourage girls to take an interest in science and technology.

Last week, the company filed a lawsuit asserting its right to use the song under US ‘fair use’ rules that provide a parody exemption, stating that GoldieBlox “created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes”. The company claimed it had gone legal on the matter because the group had “threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement” action.

Responding to that claim, Beastie Boys say that they simply contacted the company to discuss the matter, because while they agree with the sentiment of the commercial, they do not allow their music to be used in any adverts at all ever – something the group’s Adam Yauch felt so strong about, he had it written into his will. Though if GoldieBlox successfully justifies its use of the Beastie Boys track under fair use, the trio’s opinion on the matter might not be relevant, in the US at least.

In an open letter to the company, published in the New York Times, surviving members Mike D and Adam Horowitz said: “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”.

However, they continued: “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”.

Last year Beastie Boys sued Monster Energy Drink over an unauthorised 23 minute mix of their music made available through its website, just days after the advertising stipulation in Yauch’s will was made public.