The Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox Fight Over Copyright Infringement vs. Fair Use of “Girls”

11.25.13 Kyle Petreycik

Earlier last week, toy company GoldieBlox released a viral video campaign advertising toy and book product that overcomes commercial gender stereotypes. The video uses the Beastie Boys’ 1986 song “Girls“…

Girls, to do the dishes
Girls, to clean up my room
Girls, to do the laundry
Gilrs, and in the bathroom

…and changed the lyrics to market their Kickstarter-funded toy and book combination product, that encourages girls to play with engineering-skill-nurturing toys and not just pretty pink dolls.

Girls to build the spaceship
Girls to code the new app
Girls to grow up knowing
That they can engineer that

It was used without permission. The company previously stated that the Beastie Boys had “threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement” and as a result, the Beastie Boys responded:

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.

Is that fair? Or was it fair use?