Beastie’s Girls spat goes legal

January 2014

Recorded music, music publishing, advertising


CMU Daily reports that the  dispute between the Beastie Boys and American toy company GoldieBlox over the latter’s use of a rework the former’s track ‘Girls’ in an advert isn’t going away, even though the toy maker swapped in an alternative piece of music on the ad and issued a positive statement professing admiration for the band. Whilst the surviving members of the Beastie Boys Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz issued an open letter said they respected GoldieBlox’s mission to make toys for young girls that break down gender stereotypes, they added, they had previously made a conscious decision to not license their tracks for use in advertising, so much so that the third Beastie Boy, the late Adam Yauch, stated that desire in his will.

Before the Beastie Boys’ open letter, GoldieBlox had issued a pre-emptive legal strike anticipating the band’s claim seeking court confirmation that, because their version of ‘Girls’ mocked the sexist lyrics of the original, that constituted parody, and therefore the toy firm was allowed to use the track without permission under the doctrine of “fair use”.  Interestingly it seems GoldieBlox had posted similar adverts online before, including music by Daft Punk and Avicii, presumed to be without the artist or their record label’s or music publisher’s permission.

Reports now say that GoldieBlox management added a caveat to an offer to withdraw their legal action asking the Beastie Boys to commit to never launch their own copyright litigation against the company.  It seems the band declined to make such a commitment, and in return asked GoldieBlox to issue a more apologetic statement over its use of ‘Girls‘ without permission, and to make a suitable donation to charity. With little progress having since been made, the Beastie Boys have now filed a countersuit that formally accuses GoldieBlox of copyright infringement as well as unfair competition and misappropriation of publicity rights. and and

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