Beastie Boys vs GoldieBlox in Viral Video Lawsuit

By Colin Bertram
|  Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013  |  Updated 8:51 PM CDT
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Outrageous Black Friday Behavior

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Adam Horovitz, left, and Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys accept induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Saturday, April 14, 2012, in Cleveland.

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An initial war of words between fledgling toy company GoldieBlox and seminal 1980s hip-hop group the Beastie Boys may be heading to court.

At the center of the dispute is a viral video showing three pre-teen girls eschewing a princess-pink television show in favor of constructing a Rube Goldberg-like contraption with products GoldieBlox describes as "toys for future engineers." The video's accompanying soundtrack has the girls rapping alternative lyrics to the Beastie Boys' 1987 track "Girls."

"You think you know what we want -- girls/ Pink and pretty it's girls/ Just like the fifties it's girls/ You like to buy us pink toys/ And everything else is for boys," rap the girls as their construction project takes shape. Further lyrics include, "Girls to build the spaceship/Girls to code the new app/Girls to grow up knowing/that they can engineer that."

The ad has attracted more than 8 million Youtube views since it was posted on Nov. 17, and now one lawsuit.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, GoldieBlox filed suit Thursday in California federal court against the Beastie Boys, hoping to have its version of the song declared "fair use." The company filed the lawsuit against Island Def Jam Music Group claiming that “the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use, and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a ‘big problem’ that has a ‘very significant impact.’”

In response, a spokesperson for the Beastie Boys said on November 24, "there was no complaint filed, no demand letter -- no demand, for that matter -- when they sued Beastie Boys."

On Tuesday, the Beastie Boys' surviving members Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) penned an open letter to the startup company stating their side of the dispute. And while the group says it is "impressed by the creativity and message" behind the ad, it is just that: an advertisement designed to sell a product.

Here's the full text of the letter:

"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."

The Beastie Boys have previously sued numerous companies, including Monster Energy Drinks, over copyright infringements.

GoldieBlox has yet to issue a response to the Beastie Boys' letter. The company is a finalist in a contest sponsored by Intuit to have the commercial air during the 2014 Super Bowl.

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