Beastie Boys send copyright threat to toy company that remixed "Girls"

The Beastie Boys have sent a legal threat to toymaker GoldieBlox over the company's extremely clever ad, which parodies the Beasties' early track "Girls". The ad rewrites the lyrics (which are pretty terrible in the original) to insist that girls should take control over their world, reject passivity and subservience, and make things (the video accompanies this with the creation of a Rube Goldberg device that ultimately switches off a TV showing girly toy ads).

The irony here is pretty thick: the Beasties are still being sued over their use of samples on their early albums, including the classic Paul's Boutique. Every pirate wants to be an admiral, of course, but for the Beasties to decry remix culture even as they go to court to defend their (perfectly legitimate) right to make new things out of other creators' old rope is pretty sad.

GoldieBlox is seeking a declaratory judgment that their video is fair use.

According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by Goldieblox, "the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use and that GoldieBlox's unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a 'big problem' that has a 'very significant impact.' "

Goldieblox is now going to a California federal court to get declaratory relief that the video is not a copyright infringement. Read the complaint.

Beastie Boys, 'Girls' Viral Video in Copyright Infringement Fight [Eriq Gardner/Hollywood Reporter]

Notable Replies

  1. Just because it's a message you agree with doesn't make it not copyright infringement. It's an obvious copy of the Beastie Boys song, and everyone familiar with the original noticed right away. It's also commercial use, I don't see what case they have if they didn't license this beforehand. AFAIK I don't think parody or fair use apply when it's just a freaking advertisement.

  2. Glitch says:

    "For the record, I'm fine if somebody wants to take something I've made, and chop it up so it's like their own new thing... That's interesting to me."

  3. Not a very well researched piece. The issue is not that their work was remixed, it is that it was remixed for an advertisement, against the wishes of their late member Adam Yauch. Which is disrespectful at best.

    Good on the remaining members for pursuing his wishes.

  4. RyRoBa says:

    Imagining we have no memory of these particular circumstances, lets pretend that McDonalds rewrote the words to a beasties boys song and used it to sell happy meals. This article would be about how correct the beasties lawyers would be to be going after them.

    Just because 'we' approve of this particular product shouldn't overrule a musicians ability to control their music. I've had my own songs licensed loads of times for commercial use, and I would be pissed if someone did it without my permission, 'remixing' or not. If it's just a random fun video, then have it.

    I think the makers of this product were just banking on the fact that righteous indignation would ensue based on the stupid misogynistic nature of the original tune and they could get away with being lazy and not just spending a few bucks and having someone write something vaguely reminiscent of this tune that wouldn't be anywhere close to a blatant ripoff. This song is so hokey and basic anyway, any song/jingle writer should be able to work one up in a half an hour

  5. HuffPo has an update:

    Update: Nov. 24, 6:53 p.m. -- A source familiar with the matter said the Beastie Boys have not made such a claim, adding that GoldieBlox has sued the band preemptively. We will update again once we receive more information.

    Nov. 24, 10:28 p.m. -- A representative for the Beastie Boys explained: "There was no complaint filed, no demand letter (no demand, for that matter) when [GoldieBlox] sued Beastie Boys."

    @doctorow, @beschizza, would be nice to see the post updated to include this new info. Thanks.

    If this latest version of events is true, this could be a brilliant strategy by Goldieblox to use the controversy of a legal threat to fuel the virality of their video. Maybe not the tact I would take (treading on the greater fame of the beastie boys to get the attention of news outlets and others), but nonetheless successful.

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