The tongue-in-cheek Beastie Boys party anthem “Girls” took on a more serious cast recently when it became the crux of a legal battle between the band and a toy company who parodied the jam in a viral ad.
After filing a lawsuit fighting the Beasties’ copyright infringement claims, however, the toy company came forward on Wednesday (November 27) with an open letter addressed to the band in an effort to smooth things over.
“Dear Adam and Mike, We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans,” the letter, posted to the company’s blog, begins. “Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.”
The letter continues on to say that “since actions speak louder than words,” the company has already removed the song from the video. “We are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team,” it continues, ending with the statement: “We want to be your friends.”
The ad in question became a viral success over the past few weeks, garnering around 8 million views. In it, girls create a complex Rube Goldberg machine out of “traditional” girls’ toys — teapots, princess paraphernalia, etc — while singing new lyrics to the tune of the Beastie Boys jam: “You think you know what we want — girls/ Pink and pretty, it’s girls/ Just like the ’50s, it’s girls/ You like to buy us pink toys/ And everything else is for boys.”
“When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls,’ we did it with the best of intentions,” the company said in its letter. “We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls.”
GoldieBlox “is a toy company on a mission to inspire the next generation of female engineers,” according to its website.
The toy company filed a suit in California federal court Thursday (November 21) in an attempt to secure a declaratory judgment that the use of the song in the video constitutes fair use. They did so, they said, after the Beastie Boys threatened the company 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,'” the suit said.
On Monday, Mike D and Ad-Rock responded to the suit with an open letter, saying that legal action by GoldieBlox had been taken after “we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission.”
The musicians said they were “very impressed by the creativity and the message,” but “[the] 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.”
On principle, the Beastie Boys do not allow their music to be used in ads of any kind. In fact, the late Adam Yauch’s will prohibits it.
GoldieBlox said in their letter that they were unaware of this fact, adding, “although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.”
The video has since been reposted without the Beastie Boys tune.
Read the full letter from Goldieblox on their blog.