Beastie Boys To Sue Toy Company For Copy Infringement

posted December 11, 2013 05:00:00 PM CST | 5 comments

Beastie Boys To Sue Toy Company For Copy Infringement

The iconic Hip Hop group has filed a suit against toymaker GoldieBlox, alleging "systematic infringement of intellectual property."

While the video in question has since been pulled from the company’s channel, toymaker GoldieBlox has recently come under fire for alleged misuse of a Beastie Boys song. Pulled from their debut album, License to Ill, the song in question, “Girls,” was apparently retooled as a part of a promotional campaign for the company which describes itself as “on a mission to inspire the next generation of female engineers.”

Last month, with the video in question being viewed millions of times, the Beastie Boys threatened the company with a promise of copyright infringement. As per a story posted by the website Pitchfork, the surviving members of the band, Ad-Rock and Mike D, described their original complaint in an open letter to the company. “As creative as it is,” they wrote, “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.”

The letter references GoldieBlox’s own preemptive legal action meant to protect itself from copyright infringement. In the suit, GoldieBlox described their aim with the claim that the promotional video was intended primarily as a “parody.” “GoldieBlox created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song,” the suit alleges. It continues, “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 original song drew ire upon its release for its depiction of women. Appearing as the sixth track on their debut, lyrics to the song include references of women as equipped “to do the dishes,” “to clean up my room” and “to do the laundry.” GoldieBlox’s promotional video recycles the original song with altered lyrics: “Girls to build the spaceship / Girls to code the new app / Girls to grow up knowing / That they can engineer that.”

GoldieBlox’s own suit alleges that in the “original song, girls are limited (at best) to household chores, and are presented as useful only to the extent they fulfill the wishes of the male singers.”

Following the suit, the company issued a public apology to the Beastie Boys. “We don’t want to fight with you,” the apology read, “we love you and we are actually huge fans.”

In this most recent development, the Beastie Boys have filed an official copyright infringement lawsuit countering the claims made by GoldieBlox’s preemptive action. In the claim, legal representatives for the group allege that the toymaker has “engaged in the systematic infringement of intellectual property from numerous popular music groups, including [the] Beastie Boys…[The company] created a series of video advertisements set to well-known songs from popular artists in an effort to achieve the company’s primary goal of selling toys.”

The GoldieBlox case isn’t the first time that the Beastie Boys have taken legal action over unsanctioned use of their music. Earlier this year, the Beastie Boys filed a separate copyright infringement suit against the energy drink maker Monster in their own promotional videos. In that case, a deejay authorized to remix original recordings, Z-Trip, performed his remixes at a Monster-sponsored event. In the ensuing weeks, the company used the footage and music as promotional tools despite not having been granted formal permission from the band. 

Following MCA's death last May, Forbes reported that a portion of will of the rapper, whose given name was Adam Yauch, included a line prohibiting his “artistic property” being “used for advertising purposes.” Reportedly written partly in his own handwriting, that portion reads: “In no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”

RELATED: Beastie Boys' "Girls" No Longer Featured In Toy Commercial

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