GoldieBlox now says it has no beef with the Beastie Boys

Rap is famous for its beefs, and GoldieBlox vs. the Beastie Boys is proving to be an interesting one. The latest: GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling has penned an open letter to the rap group, saying “we are actually huge fans.” The company has removed the group’s song, “Girls,” from the video ad that prompted the battle.

In case you’ve missed all the hubbub: Toy maker GoldieBlox this week sued the Beastie Boys, saying the band questioned the company’s use of its song for a video ad. The Bay Area company took the offensive, saying the video was parody and covered under fair use. It is now retreating, saying it’s ready to drop the lawsuit “as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.”

“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,” Sterling writes in the letter, which the company has posted on its blog.

As we wrote earlier this week, the Beastie Boys denied that it threatened GoldieBlox, saying they “simply asked” why their song had been used by the company.

GoldieBlox makes toys that encourage girls to become interested in engineering, and it has gotten plenty of kudos in the year it’s been in existence, including after its video — a girl-power anthem set to the tune of the Beastie Boys song — went viral. But it seemed to lose some of that love when news of the lawsuit came out. As Michelle Quinn wrote for SiliconBeat yesterday, some called the company “entitled.”

Did the company react too quickly? Or is it reacting to the criticism that’s being hurled at it? GoldieBlox says it just wants to go back to business as usual: “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,” writes Sterling at the end of her letter.

 

Photo: This August 2012 photo released by GoldieBlox shows “GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine” toys. (Associated Press)

 

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  • Steve Hammill

    GoldieBlox: “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Besides, we got the mileage we needed.”

    I hope the Beastie Boys choose the nuclear option.

    • Kristopher

      Considering they have no legal argument, I hope the Beastie Boys simply enjoy the fact that their song was parodied into a positive message for young girls.

      • Steve Hammill

        You missed the earlier story where the SCOTUS decision of 2 Live Crew was discussed. This was a commercial parody and even experienced copyright attorneys would be on thin ice guessing the outcome of a suit. My take is that GoldieBlox got legal advice to turn tail and run. …but that’s my take, I doubt that you’d agree.

        • Kristopher

          Take a look at the actual case. It’s not a matter of my opinion.

          “law case that established that a commercial parody can qualify as fair use. That money is made does not make it impossible for a use to be fair; it is merely one of the components of a fair use analysis.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell_v._Acuff-Rose_Music,_Inc.

          • Steve Hammill

            The operative words in your quote are “can qualify,” it was not a definitive decision in that regard.

            GoldieBlox is running from trouble.

            BTW – I read the SCOTUS ruling, not the Wiki article about it.

          • Kristopher

            Please cite the portion of the ruling that supports your position that this is copyright infringement.

          • Steve Hammill

            Why don’t you ask your wife to post for you?

          • Kristopher

            For a guy seemingly so concerned with sources, you never cite any. Here is an excerpt from the ruling:

            “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright… (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes…”

            The operative words being “is not an infringement of copyright,” and “whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose”

            I’m married to a copyright attorney. You’re simply wrong. But I can see your ego is pretty wrapped up in this, so believe what you want.

  • MrOakland

    ” We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models.” Where does theft of intellectual property fit into this? Shameful.

    • Kristopher

      Parody is acceptable use.

      • SF Biker

        But heir advertisement wasn’t a simple parody, it was an advertisement.

        • Kristopher

          Parody is merely “a piece of writing, music, etc., that imitates the style of someone or something else in an amusing way.”

          It doesn’t matter if it has a commercial purpose.

          • Steve Hammill

            That’s not what SCOTUS ruled.

          • Kristopher

            That is entirely not what the Supreme Court ruled. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand the following sentence: “law case that established that a commercial parody can qualify as fair use. That money is made does not make it impossible for a use to be fair; it is merely one of the components of a fair use analysis.”

  • Peter Delevett, SJMN

    No word yet on the Twitters from either the Beasties or King Ad Rock. What doth the silence portend?

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