Tensions between up-and-coming girls’ toy company GoldieBlox and rap group the Beastie Boys were high back in November.
That’s when the company pre-emptively sued the band
after attorneys for the Beastie Boys claimed that a parody of the group’s song “Girls” in a GoldieBlox ad had been used without permission. It was copyright infringement, they claimed. GoldieBlox said the song’s inclusion in the ad fell under fair use rules.
GoldieBlox eventually pulled the ad down, stating that the company was unaware of band member Adam Yauch’s wishes, stated in his will, that the band’s music be kept out of advertisements. (Yauch died of cancer in May 2012.) Even so, the Beastie Boys filed a countersuit in December, claiming that the company’s ad campaign “condones and encourages stealing from others.”
Things seem to have cooled down in the months since. The Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox announced Tuesday
that they had settled their lawsuits. The settlement included two conditions: “(a) the issuance of an apology by GoldieBlox, which will be posted on GoldieBlox's website, and (b) 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.”
That apology went up on the GoldieBlox website Wednesday, near the bottom of its homepage
We sincerely apologize for any negative impact our actions may 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.
questioned the sincerity of GoldieBlox’s characterization of itself as naïve, given how quickly the company took legal action. Other responses were similarly measured:
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The amended version of the GoldieBlox ad
, which uses an instrumental music track, is at about 1.8 million YouTube views. That’s a fraction of the attention it got with the “Girls” parody.