Copyright Law

Beastie Boys parody song in viral video is fair use, toy company argues in lawsuit

A company that makes engineering and construction toys targeted to girls claims in a lawsuit that its use of a Beastie Boys song in a viral video was fair use.

GoldieBlox sought a declaratory judgment that it has a right to use the song in a suit filed last week in a California federal court, report the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Hollywood Reporter, Forbes and Rolling Stone.

GoldieBlox changed the lyrics to promote girls’ capabilities in a video showing an elaborate Rube Goldberg-type contraption built by girls.

“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 says.

The suit lists the Beastie Boy lyrics next to the altered lyrics. Part of the Beastie Boys lyrics: “Girls, to do the dishes/Girls, to clean up my room/Girls, to do the laundry/Girls, and in the bathroom/Girls, that’s all I really want is girls.” Part of the GoldieBlox lyrics: “Girls to build the spaceship/Girls to code the new app/Girls to grow up knowing/That they can engineer that.”

Forbes notes some “tricky” language in the will of band member Adam Yauch, who died from cancer last year. The provision says his music should not be used for advertising. The effect of that language may depend on whether he owned sole copyright to the music, Forbes says.

A spokesperson for the Beastie Boys told the Hollywood Reporter that when GoldieBlox filed suit, “There was no complaint filed, no demand letter—no demand, for that matter.”

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