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GoldieBlox withdraws Beastie Boys parody song from advert

By | Published on Thursday 28 November 2013


Toy company GoldieBlox has responded to protests from the surviving members of Beastie Boys about a parody version of their song ‘Girls’, which was used in an advert for the company.

As previously reported, GoldieBlox makes toys aimed at encouraging girls to take an interest in science and technology. The sexist lyrics of the Beastie Boys’ 1986 track were rewritten with this aim in mind. However, they did so without seeking approval from the band. After being contacted by the Beasties’ lawyers, the company launched legal action asserting its right to use the song without licence under the ‘fair use’ provision for parodies under US copyright law.

Responding to this, surviving band members Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz said in a letter to GoldieBlox published in the New York Times that they were “very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad [but] long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads”.

The matter was of increased importance to Diamond and Horowitz because their former bandmate Adam Yauch, who died last year, had stipulated in his will that the band’s music may never be used in advertising.

In a letter back to the pair, published on the company’s website yesterday, GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling wrote: “We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans … Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you”.

She continued by saying that the company still believed that it was within its rights to use the song, but having not been aware of Yauch’s wishes previously, would remove it from the advert. “In addition”, she said, “we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team”.

All of which is some interesting wording, particularly as no one on either side seems to have ever publicly mentioned that the advert was originally titled on YouTube as if it had not only the approval but the involvement of Beastie Boys. But let’s not get into that now, let’s just be pleased that there’s a happy ending. Well, except that the advert doesn’t really work with the music they’ve replaced ‘Girls’ with: