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Beastie Boys' 'Girls' Sets Off Viral Video Lawsuit

Toymaker Goldieblocks fights copyright infringement claim

GoldieBlox's promotional video
November 23, 2013 9:52 AM ET

The toy company behind the viral advertisement that used a parody of the song "Girls" to mock stereotyped toys for young women has filed a lawsuit fighting copyright infringement claims by the Beastie Boys. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Goldieblox filed their suit in California federal court on Thursday seeking a declaratory judgment that the video falls within fair use.

GoldiBlox, which makes engineering and construction toys targeted to girls, sparked widespread discussion about gender stereotyping in children's toys when it posted the video on Monday. The ad features three young girls building an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine while singing the Beastie Boys' 1986 hit with the lyrics changed to express their dissatisfaction with conventional girls' toys.

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"You think you know what we want – girls/ Pink and pretty it's girls/ Just like the fifties it's girls/ You like to buy us pink toys/ And everything else is for boys."

The video has been viewed more than seven and a half million times on YouTube. 

GoldieBlox claims in the lawsuit that the Beastie Boys have 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 lawsuit makes the argument that its revision of the original sexist lyrics constitutes a case of fair use. "In the lyrics of the Beastie Boys’ song entitled Girls, girls are limited (at best) to household chores, and are presented as useful only to the extent they fulfill the wishes of the male subjects," the suit says. "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, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video has gone viral on the Internet and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song."

But whatever GoldieBlox's social intent was beyond selling their products, Adam Yauch's will specifically prohibited the use of his music in advertisements after his death.

In addition to the Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox has named Def Jam Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Group and Rick Rubin as defendants in the suit.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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