Just when it looked like the “Girls” battle between the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox was over—or at least dying down—the rap group has filed suit against the toy manufacturer, seeking profits gained from what it says is an illegal parody of its song. While GoldieBlox maintains its rewrite of the tune should count as “fair use,” the Beasties' counterclaim says otherwise, arguing that the company is liable for copyright and trademark infringement, among other things. The band also points out that GoldieBlox has a history of using songs by acts like Daft Punk and Queen without permission in order to twist classic tunes into commercial jingles.
The way “fair use” is defined is, as with most legal things, a little convoluted. A judge must decide whether or not GoldieBlox’s use of the song had an effect on the song’s potential market, as well as consider how much of the song the toy company actually used. The courts will also weigh the purpose of that use—in this case, as an advertisement—and consider the nature of the original, copyrighted work. And just because the song was used in a commercial doesn’t necessarily mean that the Beastie Boys have a case. More details about fair use are here, for anyone interested in reading way, way more about copyright law.
According to the Beastie Boys’ lawsuit, the original GoldieBlox commercial got 8 million views on YouTube, and led to a “massive increase” in sales for its product, even though reviews for the kits have been tepid at best.
The full text of the Beastie Boys’ 23-page lawsuit is here, for those into reading legal documents.