Beasties/GoldieBlox debunked




As far as I can tell, the general parental reaction to GoldieBlox is “meh, good for 30 minutes or so”, so I guess these folks are going to need all the advertising they can get to move units.


It would be great if both parties found a way to make this work for both of them. Even before Yauch’s passing it seemed unlikely they would ever perform this song again without altered lyrics. GB did them a favor in some way to transform the song into one they could be proud of, so they should return the favor and allow them to use it.


That’s some pretty excellent straw-manning there, twisting each piece just enough to look like a man but still being dried grass. Not many folks said ads can’t be fair use, even fewer said wills superseded fair use (the folks who claim the will generally didn’t think the GoldieBlox ad was fair use in the first place), and I didn’t see the last part argued at all (folks suggested that if this was considered fair use then all you had to do was change a few words that comment on the original and you could use any song).

I plan to read it later, but I wonder if the “debunking” covers the “taking two minutes and nine seconds of a two minute and 14 minute song, playing the music faithful to the original and keeping all inflection and cadence of the lyrics while only changing the words is not fair use” argument. I also wonder if GoldieBlox realizes that if this is a parody of the original it misses the fact that the original was parody, and so they are showing themselves to be clueless. Suing the Beastie Boys for sending a letter, even if they thought it was threatening, is equally clueless.

I’m the father of a nine year old girl and have fought the pink menace for nine years. I buy her hammers, use Scratch programming, teach her guitar and play with stuffed animals and dolls. Something like GoldieBlox is right up my alley, but there is entirely too much of the original song in this ad – music, cadence and inflection, and length – for this to be fair use.

Argue that the song should be in the public domain after 27 years and I’ll be right there with ya. But under current law GoldieBlox took too much.


And not for the first time either. In the article it’s pointed out that should EMI come knocking, GoldieBlox is most likely going to have to answer up. Given the enormous cost of fighting infringement claims, not to mention the possible verdicts, I wonder if pushing the envelope is really such a good strategy to keep on running with.


GoldieBlox has really done an excellent job demonstrating poor taste every step of the way.


Ok, good article. But it’s the last one I’m going to read on the topic until I see one with the headline, “Court rules that _____.” Besides the actual legal judgement, this topic has been exhausted.


Like to see the Cost: Benefit analysis of coming off like asshats vs. brand recognition


Surely there’s a difference, though, between the use of parody in commercializing works of art, as in the precedents of the Naked Gun and 2 Live Crew cases (liberal use of the term ‘art’), and simply hawking goods as Goldieblox are doing?


Thanks for posting, Cory.

As previously mentioned, @doctorow and @waxpancake have been at the center of some very enlightening conversations about the complex nuances of this case.

That said, I reiterate my humble request that Doctorow’s original posting be updated or amended to reflect the fact that the BBoys did not send a copyright threat. Cory’s endorsement of Andy’s post seems to accede that - as it’s the first myth that Andy rebuts. I admit that we won’t know whether Cory’s initial framing is correct until we all see what correspondence the BBoys might have sent to GB prior to GB’s filing for declaratory relief (surely, they might have sent a chilling effects letter, and I will join in shaming them for it). But, until that is proven, I believe it’s right to amend the initial report to reflect recent events. Because SEO. Because it’s a more accurate version of the public record. And because there’s already enough confusion about this complex case circulating the web that we don’t need more heat than light shared. Again, paging the managing editor, @beschizza, in this regard.

(if it matters, I think my record of postings prove that I’m both a huge beastie boys nerd and am inclined to believe that the law doesn’t support their laudable moral anti-ad position on this matter).


It’s a brilliant ad, which is why I’m so disappointed at their misuse of copyrighted material and misapplication of fair use.

Bottom line: if you believe that Bruce Springsteen has a right to object to John McCain’s use of “Born to Run” in an ad for his 2008 presidential campaign, then you have to come down on the Beastie Boys’ side on this one. An artist has a right to restrict use of the copyrighted work for commercial purposes. Goldieblox can afford to pay an artist for music or to make their own.

Use of a copyrighted work in an advertisement for a product creates the assumption that (A) the artist was compensated or (B) the artist does not object to use of the music. Beastie Boys are in the right on this one.


Personally, I think their biggest chance at legal trouble was using the Beastie Boys name to advertise to their video, and making people think the Beastie Boys contributed to it. Unlike the stuff mentioned here, which is just “they were kind of dicks to do this but it’s probably legal”, people confusing their work for work sanctioned by or involving the beastie boys seems like it could well be trademark infringement, right?


Has anybody else noticed that the original video is now marked as “private”? It’s been re-uploaded with a new title that removes the Beasties name and a whole new original sounding lyric-less song.


You sure have a lot to say for someone who hasn’t read the damn article.


Yeah, you really ought to have read the article first.


Wow that was a quick find. YouTube tells me that the new video was uploaded only 15 minutes ago. I wonder what happened.


That’s very well presented, Cory. Thanks for the link! I still (perhaps irrationally) despise the notion of advertisements becoming ‘authenticated’ outside of the Spectacle. I think it has something to do with looking at commercials on lsd-25. I can’t seem to shake to loathing.


Twice now I’ve heard about GoldieBlox, thought ‘what a cool idea’, watched an ad for them, scratched my head wondering what the product actually was, and then finally left with the impression that all the good construction set ideas must have already been patented.


Yep, look at that. Ethical retreat or step 5a of a Bernays-ian launch campaign?


Uh. . . you realize that GoldieBox did “make their own,” right? New instrumentation, new lyrics, new recording, no samples: the Beastie Boys do not own GB’s parody of Girls.