SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A toy company behind a parody video encouraging girls to pursue careers in math and science sued the Beastie Boys, claiming it fairly used one of their songs.
GoldieBlox sued the Beastie Boys, Island Def Jam Music Group and other music publishers, seeking declaratory relief in Federal Court
GoldieBlox, founded by Stanford graduate Debbie Sterling, a product designer, “is a toy company founded upon the principle of breaking down gender stereotypes, by offering engineering and construction toys specifically targeted to girls,” the complaint states.
In the video at issue, three young girls reject playing with pink and pretty princess toys, and create a Rube Goldberg-type machine that goes through one of the girl’s home and yard to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls.”
GoldieBlox changed the lyrics to match its message of choosing a technological career.
The Beastie Boys’ lyrics say:
“Girls – to do the dishes
“Girls – to clean up my room
“Girls – to do the laundry
“Girls – and in the bathroom.”
GlodieBlox’s lyrics say:
“Girls to build the spaceship
“Girls to code the new app,
“Girls to grow up knowing
That they can engineer that.”
The video went viral on YouTube, getting more than 8 million hits, “and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song,” the complaint states.
“In response to this criticism, the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys argue the video is not a fair use and is unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property and is a ‘big problem’ and has ‘significant impact.'”
The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that the band released a letter saying that though they were “impressed by the creativity and the message of the GoldieBlox video, ‘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.'”
GoldieBlox seeks declaratory judgment that it did not infringe copyright, as the parody is a fair use.
They are represented by Annette L. Hurst, with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco.
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