GoldieBlox to Beastie Boys: We Won’t Use Your Song, but We Could If We Wanted To…

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Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, has responded to the Beastie Boys’ open letter. GoldieBlox has also removed the “Girls” parody from their advertisement, replacing it with a jingle. They say they will drop their lawsuit against the Beastie Boys if they agree to forget about the whole thing.

“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.




Debbie + Team GoldieBlox”

The new version of the video:


10 Responses

  1. David

    It’s worth taking a look at the ‘fair use’ provision of US copyright law:
    “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. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include – (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”

    In commentary on fair use attention tends to focus on the four factors numbered (1) to (4), but to qualify as ‘fair use’ it is also necessary to fall within the description ‘for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research’. In the Goldieblox case I suppose they would argue that the parody constitutes criticism or comment, but that is straining things given that the main purpose of the parody is commercial advertsing..

    • RobFil

      also worth noting that in a landmark case on Fair Use in music, Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music (Too Live Crew, “Oh Pretty Woman”), Supreme Court Justice Souther gave the majority opinion in favor of fair use in that case, but made this reference as to how the circumstances might have been different if the parody in question was used to sell a product:

      “the use of a copyrighted work to advertise a product, even in a parody, will be entitled to less indulgence” under the law than the sale of a parody for its own sake”

      • Jaded Industry Dude

        This cannot be mentioned enough, GoldieBlox used the two words “Beastie” and “Boys” in the Youtube video. This is not ‘fair use parody’ this is branding yourself with one of the biggest musicians in the world without their permission.

        Weird Al, for example, does not use ANY band names in his songs ever. Or videos. Or marketing.

      • jw

        I’ve see this quoted a lot, but the song itself never mentions a product. It could be argued that the intent behind the parody itself is empowerment… I would argue that the use of the copyrighted work is strictly to parody, & that the use of the parody is to advertise the product.

  2. Erik P

    I’m convinced GoldieBlox did this strictly as a PR stunt. And it worked.

    • jw

      Not sure that’s the case. Their first video was a parody of We Are the Champions, & they’ve set it to private to avoid more press.

  3. Anonymous

    Nice week! 🙂 First Pandora, now these guys.

    Music vs. tech 2-0.

  4. anonymous

    They really could (and should) sue goldieblox for what they acquired during the time of the airing of the commercial,..and really just stop them from doing this again. Write your own damn jingles goldieblox, are you that lacking in creativity that you have to steal someone elses ‘fame’? That’s just pathetic.

  5. Brooke Wentz

    I loved the original version and sent it to my daughter and the head of her school. However, the original was NOT parody. Parody is defined as :
    A new, copyrightable work based on a previously copyrighted work that a) Doesn’t take more from the copyrighted work than necessary, b) Makes a social commentary that is at least in part directed to the subject matter of the previous work, usually humorously, c) Likely won’t hurt the value of the previous work.

    This is also not ‘fair use’. Goldieblox did the right thing to change the song.