(CBS SF/RADIO.COM) – It started simply enough with a commercial for a small Rube Goldberg toy that came with a parody song for Beastie Boys. It was positive, adorable, and empowering — three important keys for anything to go viral. And viral it did go. The GoldieBlox company manifesto said they wanted “to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math…By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.” Then things got complicated.
In the will and testament of Adam Yauch (aka, the late MCA), he is abundantly clear about the intentions of the Beastie Boys music. He states, ”…notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purpose.”
Much like the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye fiasco, Goldieblox decided to stand up for itself and sue the Beastie Boys estate first, in anticipation of a suit from them. In response to this, Beastie Boys members Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz wrote 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…When we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.”
And now, the Oakland-based start-up has taken down the video, and responded with their own open letter, stating that they will be willing to put down their swords if Beastie Boys put down theirs. As of now, Beastie Boys have not responded to the accord, however it seems that everyone has gotten what they wanted.
Like entertainment and intellectual property lawyer John Seay told us, “Sure, they might have really believed that their use of the song was a fair use. Or, they might have figured that, worse case, they get sued, or threatened with suit, and the press picks up on it and raises the profile of the company and gets the commercial seen by many more people.”
Read GoldieBlox’s full letter below:
Dear Adam and Mike,
We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.
When we made our parody version of your song, “Girls”, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing the new lyrics with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.
Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.
We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.
Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video. In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.
We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.
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