Orrick Takes on Beastie Boys over GoldieBlox Ad
As we documented just three weeks ago, the Beastie Boys and their lawyers at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton don't mess around when it comes to protecting the band's IP. But did the Beasties go too far when they challenged a version of the song "Girls" in a video that went viral earlier this month?
That's the accusation in a declaratory judgment lawsuit filed last week by Goldieblox Inc., a toy company marketing construction-themed toys to young girls. (If you're a parent and you use the Internet, you've likely seen GoldieBlox's video by now—it's generated more than 8 million YouTube hits since it was posted a few days ago.) GoldieBlox's lawyers at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe claim that their client's take on "Girls" is an obvious parody, and they stop just short of suggesting that the Beastie Boys bullied GoldieBlox for taking a song about wanting girls "to do the laundry" and using it to celebrate girls' limitless potential.
GoldieBlox's lawsuit, which names the band, Universal Music Group, and producer Rick Rubin, was filed Thursday in U.S. district court in Oakland. Orrick's Annette Hurst writes that the Beastie Boys "threatened" GoldieBlox over the version of "Girls" created for the rollicking two-minute video, which features a Rube Goldberg machine that finds creatively destructive uses for a string of stereotypical girls' toys. According to the complaint, the video "does not infringe any copyrights held by defendants and is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine."
Sheppard Mullin's Kenneth Anderson, longtime outside counsel to the Beastie Boys, confirmed that he's representing the group in the matter. He also pointed us to an "open letter" to Goldieblox that Adam Horovitz (a.k.a. Ad-Rock) and fellow Beastie Michael "Mike D" Diamond released on Monday. The letter praises the creativity and message behind the company's video but states that the group does not allow its music to be used in product ads. "When we tried to simply ask how and why our song 'Girls' had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US," the pair wrote.