Beastie Boys Fight “Girls” Viral Video, Get Preemptively Sued

“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.”

A viral video parodying the song “Girls” by the Beastie Boys has earned criticism from the band’s members, who say that the the toy company that created the spoof did not obtain permission to use the song. The company, GoldieBlox, makes toys that encourage young girls to learn about science and technology and in the video, the lyrics to the Beastie Boys song are updated to reflect the company’s philosophy (“Girls build a spaceship/Girls code the new app/Girls that grow up knowing/That they can engineer that.”).

GoldieBlox filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming that they had a right to use the song under “fair use,” allegedly in response to the band threatening them with copyright infringement. In the lawsuit, lawyers for GoldieBlox assert that the video was created “specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes,” and that the video “has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song.”

The band released an open letter responding to the controversy on Monday:

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.

3. Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz tweeted about the controversy Monday, reiterating that the toy company is in the process of suing the band, not the other way around.

Update - Nov. 27., 11:16 a.m. ET: Toy company GoldieBlox has pulled its viral video, “Girls,” a spoof of the Beastie Boys song of the same name, after members of the band claimed that GoldiBlox had not obtained permission to use the song.

The company’s CEO wrote an open letter to the Beastie Boys on the GoldieBlox website.

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