The Beastie Boys Have Gone Ahead And Countersued GoldieBlox Over “Girls” Parody Ad

The fight is officially back on, if it was ever off.

The fight is officially back on, if it was ever off.

Remember when we thought, “Oh good, the fight between GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys is over because they totally apologized for using the band’s song in their ad and switched it out!”? Yeah well, it ain’t over until it’s over and in this case, that involves a countersuit from the Beastie Boys.

They’re of the mind that the ad wasn’t fair use and as such, GoldieBlox should hand over whatever profits they made while the song parody was in the commercial.

At first it seemed that the Beastie Boys weren’t ready to go into legal fight mode: When GoldieBlox filed a suit to stake its claim on using the song under fair use, the band was all, “Whoa whoa, we just sent you a letter asking why you didn’t seek our permission, and now you’re jumping the gun with this lawsuit.” I paraphrase, but you get the point.

But that tune has changed to one of litigiousness, as the band has filed a counterclaim in court, saying that rewriting its song “Girls” doesn’t work as fair use, so fork over the cash you made off the popular YouTube video, reports GigaOm.

In the counterclaim filed yesterday in New York, the Beastie Boys ask for the moolah and also that GoldieBlox is liable for copyright and trademark infringement. The band points to the toy maker’s use of songs by Queen and Daft Punk, among others, in its commercial jingles without getting permission.

So is it fair use? Well, it might, but it’s tricky, points out the Onion A.V. Club: A judge will have to decide whether or not GoldieBlox’s use of the song had an effect on the song’s potential market, or in other words, if people weren’t buying copies of “Girls” because they had a rewritten version in the ad to listen to, I suppose.

Another consideration is how much of the song was used in the ad, as well as what it was using for — which in this case, was an advertisement so ostensibly, the goal was commercial gain. But just because it was in a commercial doesn’t mean the Beastie Boys will win.

We’ll leave it to the legal and judicial experts to decide, but for now, this fight is far from over. The Beastie Boys are seeking profits, damages, lawyers’ fees and an injunction to prevent GoldieBlox from using the song — though we doubt it’ll try that again.

The full lawsuit is below, via GigaOm:

Beastie Boys countersue as fair use fight over “Girls” song escalates [GigaOm]
And now the Beastie Boys have sued over that toy commercial that used “Girls” [The Onion A.V. Club]

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  1. oomingmak says:

    Goldieblox’s “apology” was pretty smug and made the whole thing seem like a well-orchstrated marketing ploy on their part. While the fair use aspect of the song is debatable, the sleazy way Goldieblox handled the whole situation isn’t.

    At the very least, Goldieblox should be disqualified from the Super Bowl competition that was the source of the whole mess.

  2. CharlesWinthrop says:

    I’ll say it again, the Beastie Boys need to stop acting high and mighty about a song THEY stole to begin with.

  3. gummo says:

    So yeah, GoldieBlox should have had permission first. However, despite shilling their stuff with it, they did have a really good message with it. Every once in a while, capitalism can actually be a force for good, and I think this was one of them.

    Now, Beastie Boys has a right to ask them not to use their music to promote a product. I don’t begrudge them that. But once GoldieBlox backed off, so should they. This suit is really a dick move in my eyes.

    I thought initially, once GB quit using that song to sell, that it would be nice to cut a version of that video with the parody song, with absolutely NO advertising in it. Now, after this action, I REALLY want that to happen. Given the tone of the original song and that of the rewrite, there is, as far as my “I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice” mind goes, plenty of justification for it’s fair use as a parody of the original. The commercial use makes fair use murky, but it does not automatically negate it. Divorced of the commercial use, I would think it would be easily defensible.

    • oomingmak says:

      The problem with your argument is that by all reports Goldieblox did not actually “back off.” Sure, they pulled the song from the video but the lawsuit against the Beasties was proceeding as planned with, I’m assuming, the hopes of getting fair use designation at a future time.

  4. cesariojpn says:

    Guess Weird Al ain’t gonna be making parody songs of the Beastie Boys anytime soon….