GoldieBlox claims their use of the Beastie Boys song "Girls" is fair

By Melissa Locker
Updated November 25, 2013 11:00 AM
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Credit: GoldieBlox/Youtube

Last week, while the Internet was swooning over the adorable feminist retooling of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” in a commercial for toy company GoldieBlox, it turns out that the band was fuming.

The ad features a group of ridiculously cute girls engineering a Rube Goldberg machine out of traditional girl toys, all set to a twist on the 1987 song. The video has been viewed more than eight million times, but according to a lawsuit filed last week (you can read the complaint here), GoldieBlox says the Beastie Boys have been making noise about the brand’s use of the song.

In order to resolve the matter, GoldieBlox has filed a preemptive lawsuit against the band, the producers and the related record companies asking for declaratory and injunctive relief allowing them to use the song on the grounds of fair use. GoldieBlox claims that their updated version of the Beastie Boys hit, which originally suggested girls “do the dishes” and “do the laundry,” was a parody and as such is protected free speech. The new lyrics propose that girls should take control over their world, reject passivity and subservience and, of course, make things out of GoldieBlox.

Now the band has responded with an open letter to GoldieBlox in which they note that while they “strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering,” the ad is still very much an ad. “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.” Complicating the matter further is that the will of deceased Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch reportedly prohibited the use of his music in advertisements after his death.

The Beastie Boys may want to avoid pointing fingers, though, as Boing Boing recently posted a reminder that the band plundered the melody of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” for “Girls.”