GoldieBlox posted a public apology to Beastie Boys on their website Tuesday night, hours after the toy company settled a lawsuit with the hip-hop group over improperly using the band’s 1987 song “Girls” in one of their ads.
“We sincerely apologize for any negative impact our actions have had on the Beastie Boys,” the company said. “We never intended to cast the band in a negative light and we regret putting them in a position to defend themselves when they had done nothing wrong.”
The company admitted — or was legally bound to admit — that in hindsight, they would have reached out to the group to “secure the proper rights” to the song before using the track in an ad for the “Princess Machine.” It’s unlikely, however, that the group would have given the company permission, as a stipulation in late member Adam Yauch’s will stated that, “in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”
“We know this is only one of the many mistakes we’re bound to make as we grow our business,” the company said, posting the statement in small print at the bottom of their homepage. “The great thing about mistakes is how much you can learn from them.”
One thing the company will learn is the Beastie Boys’ favorite charities, as part of the settlement includes “a payment by GoldieBlox, based on a percentage of its revenues, to one or more charities selected by Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.”
The legal morass began when the hip-hop group claimed copyright infringement over GoldieBlox’s parody of “Girls,” which changed the lyrics from “Girls/To do my dishes/Girls/To clean up my room” to “Girls/To build a spaceship/Girls/To code the new app.” GoldieBlox filed an official lawsuit against the group, arguing that the ad was a parody and therefore protected under fair use. The company claimed they wanted 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 group noted their support for GoldieBlox’s message, but stressed, “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. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, you sued us.”
GoldieBlox pulled the viral video and stated that they hoped to avoid a protracted legal battle. Still, the Beastie Boys filed an official counter-suit in December, criticizing GoldieBlox for an advertising campaign that “condones and encourages stealing from others.”
GoldieBlox’s Apology to Beastie Boys
We sincerely apologize for any negative impact our actions have had on the Beastie Boys. We never intended to cast the band in a negative light and we regret putting them in a position to defend themselves when they had done nothing wrong.
As engineers and builders of intellectual property, we understand an artist’s desire to have his or her work treated with respect. We should have reached out to the band before using their music in the video.
We know this is only one of the many mistakes we’re bound to make as we grow our business. The great thing about mistakes is how much you can learn from them. As trying as this experience was, we have learned a valuable lesson. From now on, we will secure the proper rights and permissions in advance of any promotions, and we advise any other young company to do the same.