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‘Girls’ Parody Is Nothing More|Than an Ad, Beastie Boys Say

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - The Beastie Boys fired back at a toy maker two weeks after being sued, claiming GoldieBlox's "Girls" parody video is not fair use and "encourages stealing from others."

The Beastie Boys filed a counterclaim against GoldieBlox Tuesday in Oakland Federal Court.

In the video, three girls reject playing with pretty princess toys and are seen building a Rube Goldberg-type contraption to the tune of Beastie Boys' "Girls."

GoldieBlox changed the lyrics to reflect its mission of encouraging girls to choose careers in science and math. The video went viral on YouTube, getting 8 million hits in 10 days, "and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song," according to the toy maker.

GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford graduate Debbie Sterling to break down gender stereotypes with engineering and construction toys targeted to girls.

The company sued the Beastie Boys in late November, seeking a declaration that its parody video is fair use and did not infringe on the band's copyright.

In Tuesday's counterclaim, the Beastie Boys say the video amounts to an "advertisement ... of a commercial nature" that used their copyrighted tune without their consent.

"GoldieBlox achieved and continues to achieve additional publicity, press coverage, and ... greater sales of its products, as a direct result of the Beastie Boys' perceived affiliation with the GoldieBlox advertisement," the counterclaim states.

In fact, the Beastie Boys say they found out about the parody when an ad agency contacted Universal Music Group, their copyright administrator, on Nov. 20 to find out if GoldieBlox had licensed the song.

The agency wanted to know, the band says, because it planned to submit the GoldieBlox ad to a competition to win a 30-second commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl.

The following day, the Beastie Boys had their attorney contact GoldieBlox's attorney about the company's use of the song in its ad, according to the counterclaim.

GoldieBlox responded by suing the band "that very same day," the Beastie Boys claim.

"Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others," the Beastie Boys claim.

They want the video taken down and all copies destroyed, and they want GoldieBlox to reimburse them for any profits they lost or GoldieBlox gained from the video. They seek actual and punitive damages for copyright and trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and an accounting.

The Beastie Boys are represented by Kent Raygor of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

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