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Toy maker pulls Beastie Boys ad

By TODD MARTENS Los Angeles Times

Publication: The Day

Published November 29. 2013 4:00AM
GoldieBlox Inc.,Susan Burdick, File/AP Photo
"GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine," made by toy maker GoldieBlox, which recently settled a legal argument with the surviving members of the Beastie Boys over an ad that parodied the song, "Girls."

California toy maker GoldieBlox said Wednesday that its intention is to be "friends" with the Beastie Boys and that it meant no harm in creating a parody version of the act's mid-'80s hit "Girls" for an online commercial. The music has been pulled from the advertisement.

"We don't want to fight with you. We love you, and we are actually huge fans," read a statement attributed to GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling. "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."

GoldieBlox last week scored a viral hit with its commercial that featured a new take on "Girls," replacing the gender-stereotyping lyrics of the original with new lyrics that call for girls to build apps and spaceships.

The commercial centers on a Rube Goldberg-like contraption with which GoldieBlox building toys one by one destroys the more cliched products often targeted to women.

After the ad went viral, representatives of the Beastie Boys contacted GoldieBlox. The company responded with a preemptive court filing arguing that its use of "Girls" was a parody and protected under fair-use statutes.

GoldieBlox said Wednesday that it will drop its lawsuit if the Beastie Boys promise to not pursue legal action. A spokeswoman for the Beastie Boys said the group would be issuing no further comment at this time. On Monday, the band praised the creativity of the ad, but stressed that it did not sanction the use of its music for commercials.

"We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering," read a statement attributed to surviving Beastie Boys Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz.

"As creative as it is," the statement continued, "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."

In its statement, GoldieBlox said "hearts sank" when lawyers for the Beastie Boys reached out to the company, and claimed ignorance of the fact that late Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch had specified in his will that the act's music never be used in an advertisement.

"Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours," the company said. "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."

The Beastie Boys have long poked fun at themselves and even disavowed their early lyrics as band members became more politically active.

"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," the Beasties' statement read.

"When we tried to simply ask how and why our song 'Girls' had been used in your ad without our permission," the act's statement concluded, "YOU sued US."

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