Last week, San Francisco start-up toy company Goldieblox made headlines with the release of an inventive new commercial spot that retools the Beastie Boys’ 1986 song “Girls” into a girl power anthem.
Now Goldieblox and the Beastie Boys are embroiled in a legal mess over the unauthorized use of the song, with the toy company filing a preemptive lawsuit against the New York hip-hop legends, stating: “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 and to encourage young girls to engage inactivities that challenge their intellect, particularly in the fields of science, technology,engineering and math. The GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video has gone viral on the Internet, and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song.”
The Beastie Boys have issued an open letter to Goldieblox stating that despite being “impressed by the creativity and the message,” the spot is still a commercial advertisement for a product, which the band has very explicitly deemed off limits.
“We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering,” Beastie Boys members Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz said in the statement. However, the group added, “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.”
Additionally, Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, who succumbed to cancer in 2012, wrote into his will that none of his music ever be used in advertising: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,” reads a passage from the will (via Rolling Stone).
According to entertainment and intellectual property lawyer John Seay, of Atlanta’s The Seay Firm LLC, Golieblox using “Girls” without asking for the band’s permission could very well have been part of their plan to get the ad and its message to a larger audience, potential lawsuits be damned.