By the time the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch passed away last year, the man better known as MCA had earned a reputation as an elder statesman of hip-hop, defined as much by his contributions to the
Tibetan independencemovement as his sharp lyrics and signature gravelly voice.
But last week, a viral advertisement made by the start-up GoldieBlox reminded the internet that the Beastie Boys were once the very epitome of the brand of immature male entitlement they would later decry.
And lawyers for the Beastie Boys want it stopped, according to a suit filed in a California federal court.
In the video, GoldieBlox promoted its line of girl-focused building toys with an eviscerating parody of the 1987 Beasties song “Girls” by changing the song’s lyrics from an ode to female domesticity (“Girls … to do the dishes / Girls … to clean up my room”) to one that trumpeted a new brand of female empowerment (“Girls … to build the spaceship / Girls … to code the new app”).
There was a time when the Beastie Boys — now in middle age — were a group of (nearly) intolerable punks who performed onstage beside women in cages and yes, a giant inflatable penis.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in California, GoldieBlox alleges that the Beasties Boys and their record label, Island Def Jam, accused the company of copyright infringement for the video, which has now been viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube. GoldieBlox is seeking an injunction against the Beasties on their copyright claims.
“GoldieBlox created its parody video with specific goals to make fun of the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes and to encourage young girls to engage in activities that challenge their intellect…,” GoldieBlox said in its complaint. “In response, the Beastie Boys and their label have lashed out and accused GoldieBlox of copyright infringement.”
In the suit, GoldieBlox disputes whether any part of the song infringes the Beastie Boys’ copyrights, saying that the song was re-recorded by new singers and featured new lyrics.
The company also claims its video is protected by the “fair use” doctrine, a legal standard that allows intellectual property to be used if it is reproduced as a parody or part of a new work that transforms the original into something entirely different.
We’ve reached out to GoldieBlox and the corporate parent of the Beastie Boys’ record label and are awaiting a response. Here’s the video:
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