Last week, the toy company GoldieBlox released a video rebranding the stereotypical toys that young girls are thought to want (think the “pink aisle”), but now it’s the center of a copyright infringement that took an unusual twist.
In the video with more than 8 million views on YouTube, three little girls devise this giant Rube Goldberg machine — keeping with the GoldieBlox mission to “inspire the next generation of female engineers” — all to a repurposed Beastie Boys tune.
It turns out, GoldieBlox never asked the band for use of its 1987 hit “Girls.” When asked by Beastie Boys representatives about this infringement, which used its melody but changed the lyrics, GoldieBlox filed a preemptive lawsuit for their right to use it — an unusual move considering the Beastie Boys had not sued them.
The Beastie Boys released an open letter, published on the New York Times, Monday (emphasis added):
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
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.
While the Beastie Boys’ “Girls” has lyrics like:
Girls to do the dishes
Girls to clean up my room
Girls to do the laundry
Girls and in the bathroom.
GoldieBlox’s viral video changed the words to:
Girls build a spaceship
Girls code the new app
Girls that grow up knowing
That they can engineer that.
Watch the video:
According to the video’s description, GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineer herself, created the company last year to give girls “more choices than the pink aisle has to offer.” The company started as an interactive book series and construction set featuring a character named Goldie.
“This year, we wondered what we could do to showcase the amazing inventive power that girls have. So…we might have recruited three young girls and that guy who made OK Go’s famous Rube Goldberg machine to turn an average home into a massive, magical contraption,” the description read.