The legal battle between the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox, the toy startup that used the New York hip-hop trio’s song “Girls” for a commercial without permission, intensified Tuesday. In suing the company for copyright infringement in U.S. District Court, the band’s lawyers allege GoldieBlox acted “willfully, maliciously and oppressively with a willful disregard of the harm that would be suffered by the Beastie Boys parties.” Those words are used about the ad, which shifts the context of a misogynist old-school rap song to a group of small, pink-loving girls who build an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine out of toys.
The litigation began November 21st, when GoldieBlox preemptively sued the band, alleging its members threatened the company with copyright infringement. The toy company claims the spot is a parody, and constitutes “fair use.” But the band’s surviving founders, Mike D and Ad-Rock, argued in an open letter: “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.”
The Beastie Boys’ counter-suit, filed yesterday at US District Court in Oakland, Calif., claims GoldieBlox used the song “with the intent of causing confusion and mistake and of misleading and deceiving the public into believing that the Beastie Boys Parties’ goods and services are associated with or authorized by GoldieBlox.” The band is seeking all profits the company may have generated through airing the viral spot. The band’s reps refused to comment. Its late founder, Adam “MCA” Yauch, has stipulated in his will that no Beastie Boys songs can be used in ads.