Beastie Boys Write Open Letter on Goldieblox’s Use of ‘Girls’ in Viral Commercial
You may have seen this new 'Goldieblox and the Spinning Machine' commercial, which challenges preconceptions of what a girl's toy should look like and be able to do. The ad has gone viral on YouTube, partially due to the inclusion of a re-imagined version of Beastie Boys' 'Girls.' However, the commercial has led to a lawsuit between Goldieblox and Beastie Boys, which has gotten increasingly ugly over the past few days.
As of this posting, the ad for 'Goldieblox and the Spinning Machine' has racked up well over eight million views on YouTube since Nov. 17. According to various sources, after inquiring as to why 'Girls' was used without the group's permission, Goldieblox preemptively filed a lawsuit against Beastie Boys, their record label, producer Rick Rubin and MC Adam Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock). According to the Huffington Post and other news sources, Goldieblox is seeking declaratory and inductive relief to "vindicate the rights" of the company in connection with the parody video. The company and its lawyers have also deemed the original song as "highly sexist."
Legally, parody songs are considered as "fair use," but according to an open letter released by Beastie Boys members Mike D and Ad-Rock, the group committed themselves to not allowing their music or name to be used in product ads. It was even requested by the late Adam 'MCA' Yauch that none of his music was to be used for commercials after his death. Although Goldieblox's version of the song may hold up as parody, it should be noted that the ad's YouTube title is 'GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys "Princess Machine" (a concert for little girls).'
Mike D and Ad-Rock's open letter reads:
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.
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.
Stay tuned as news continues to break on Beastie Boys' legal troubles against Goldieblox.