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Should This Girls’ Toy Company Be Allowed To Parody A Beastie Boys Song?

Submitted by on November 28, 2013 – 10:25 amNo Comment

A viral video for a toy company inspiring girls to explore sciences has been forced to change its tune after being contacted by the lawyers of famed hip hop pioneers The Beastie Boys. GoldieBlox scored an internet hit with a recent ad featuring a parody of the Beastie’s song “Girls,” changing the adolescent misogynist lyrics into an anthem about defying gender stereotypes.

The Beastie Boys contacted the company with regards to the music being used without permission. GoldieBlox fired back with a defensive lawsuit, claiming fair use. (Parody has often been protected as fair use by the US courts. This is especially true when the parody is directly criticizing the original work- and GoldieBlox claims it is criticizing the original message of “Girls.”)

The surviving members of the Beastie Boys, Adam Horowitz (Ad-Rock) and Michael Diamond (Mike D), wrote an open letter to GoldieBlox, saying that they admired the video and it’s message. But the group claims it “made a conscious decision not to permit [their] music and/or name to be used in product ads,” and that though the video might be a meaningful parody, it is also “an advertisement that is designed to sell a product.”

Despite the lawsuit, GoldieBlox removed the song from their ad. In her own open letter, GoldieBlox founder Debra Sterling said her team is “actually huge fans” of the Boys. Sterling also states that late band member Adam Yauch (MCA) had specifically requested in his will that his music never be used in advertisements.

“Girls” was originally released on Licensed to Ill in 1986, the same album that had “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” It tells a not-political-correct story about the groups’ struggles to attract girls, over a bouncy, minimalist beat. The original chorus goes: ” Girls, to do the dishes/Girls, to clean up my room/Girls, to do the laundry/Girls, and in the bathroom.”

The GoldieBlox parody updates this to: “Girls — to build the spaceship/ Girls — to code the new app/ Girls — to grow up knowing/That they can engineer that.”

The video features a trio of young girls building a Rube Goldberg machine. It is still available, but with a different soundtrack.

Sterling, a Stanford-educated engineer, founded GoldieBlox after being dismayed at the lack of women in her field. The company builds construction toys targeted towards girls.




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