Beastie Boys open letter: "threat" was just a misunderstanding


sounds like GoldieBlocks is gonna sell a lot of toys.


I read this as they’ve looked deep into the eyes of the Streisand abyss, and are trying to decide how to save face for their anti-ad stance while stepping back from the unfair use claim.


I’m a lawyer but not yours and not a copyright lawyer… is advertising really fair use? (Edited to make my disclaimer more disclaim-y.)


I know, right? As way cool as the Beasties are, I kinda hate them now. HATE.

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maybe the 2 remaining beastie boys are just trying to honour the wishes of their lifelong friend who died not all that long ago?


I’d recommend the twitter feed of @doctorow or @waxpancake, where there are a lot of educated (and uneducated) folks weighing in. As I understand it, there’s a four-factor test, only one of which hinges upon advertising. And even then, it doesn’t say advertising can’t enjoy fair use, only that it might receive “less indulgence.”

Given the strong pro-feminist / anti-sexist message of the video in relation to the original, it’s hard to imagine what would pass the bar if this doesn’t.


You know, as much as I admire the aims of the goldie blox toy, this seems to be pretty clearing used for commercial and not protected by"fair use". Beastie Boys don’t want their music used to sell products. That seems perfectly admirable. Whose side would you be on if it was Ford or Chevron that had appropriated music without consent or compensation?


Adam Yauch stated in his will that he doesn’t want the Beastie Boy’s music to ever be used in advertising.


To be fair the message of the advert is irrelevant, they’re still just slinging toys. If it were a McDonalds ad, even with a pro-feminist message, I can’t imagine the overall attitude to the situation would be the same.

I’m actually in the ‘I find it distasteful’ camp. I love the message, and had it been on some YouTube’rs account as a non-commercial parody I’d get the anger. But as it stands it’s just a toy company making money off the backs of others - that’s not really what I understand fair use to be for; even if it technically qualifies.

I don’t know the legal in’s and out’s though, that’s just my opinion. But I don’t have anything against the Beastie Boys here. If I were a musician I wouldn’t like my music being used for ads either - and if all you have to do to use it commercially is change a few lyrics then I’m surprised that Anusol haven’t danced on Johnny Cash’s grave yet.


It’s amazing how quickly most commenters assume that the Beasties are at fault. It’s almost like you missed the last 20 years of their music, where they were frequently, vocally pro-women. In case you need a refresher, this is who we’re talking about:
skip to 3mins in if you don’t want to watch the whole thing. It could be that they were the bad guys here, but without seeing the original (ill?) communication, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.


(I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer, and in any event, I’ve got no copyright experience. And this isn’t legal advice, it’s just arguing on the internet.)

Commercial use is usually THE factor that swallows the other three. And in this case, you could pretty easily say that both factors 1 and 3 weigh against GoldieBlox–the purpose of the use was commercial AND they took substantially all of the work, including the “heart” of the work.

As for the inspirational message, I’m pretty sure copyright is supposed to be message-agnostic; otherwise, I’d think you’d run into First Amendment problems.

I think the question is the one @blambo raises: what happens if it’s Ford, or Chevron (or Wal-Mart, or Rob Ford) repurposing a song you like for pure advertising purposes?


What does that have anything to do with it? Are you saying that ‘I agree with this particular political position, therefore copyright laws be damned’? If anything, that’s actually the very essence of violating ‘equality before the law’, which is a central tenant of anti-sexist thinking. Irony!


Yeah. @blambo @mcsnee and @NathanHornby all make good points about the commercial nature of the… er… commercial.

If this was a lesser known artist who had been parodied by a bigger business, the outrage would likely flow the other direction.

I think it’s easy to follow a gut reaction to side with GoldieBlox because of the message and delivery but let’s remember this isn’t some little girls getting sued by the Beastie Boys, this is a business that appropriated their music to sell a product, stirred up media coverage, and then preemptively sued them.


I thought the ad was promoting girls building Rube Goldberg Machines, which I heartily approve of.


I read this as GoldieBlox decided to use the Streisand Effect to get a ton of positive publicity. It wasn’t enough for them to knowingly use a song against the wishes of the creator, they also have to try to publicly demonize the creator in order to promote themselves.


That’s pretty much how I feel about too, even as the owner of a Goldieblox from their Kickstarter. I support both proudly, but one of them voiced repeated wishes that their songs not get used for advertising.


Yeah, this seem like a dirty move from GoldieBlocks. Bad enough to rip off someones music to convince people to buy stuff, against the strong and admirable anticommercial stance of the author, but to demonize them for being upset about it is a whole 'nother level in assholery. I’m not commenting on whether this is legal fair use, but I think it’s a dick move either way.


well sometimes you have to Fight For Your Right to Parody


I wholly agree with the suggestion that people flip the power roles in their heads when thinking about this issue.

Small indie artist with a song; McDonald’s using that song in a “parody” video to sell Happy Meals.

Would people feel the same way about the situation? Our feelings about the message should not influence the situation.