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Beastie Boys File Suit Against US Toymaker

Written by Greg Moskovitch on December 12, 2013

Seminal hip-hop crew the Beastie Boys have officially filed suit against US toymaker GoldieBlox, as part of an ongoing copyright dispute with the company. The suit follows an open letter written by GoldieBlox owner Debbie Sterling, addressed to the band, as an attempt at a peaceful resolution.

The controversy began last month, when a GoldieBlox advertisement that featured a parody of the rap group’s 1986 album cut Girls went viral, prompting the band’s lawyers to launch an enquiry, which was countered with a suit from GoldieBlox, who insisted the advertisement was “fair use.”

After reports surfaced that the Beasties were suing the US toymaker, who make educational toys for girls with a view to inspiring an interest in science and technology, the Beasties wrote an open letter to the company wherein they were adamant that it was in fact GoldieBlox who was suing them.

The Beasties contended that they are fulfilling the last wishes of late member Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, who requested none of his “artistic property” be used in advertising, with the band telling GoldieBlox, “make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product.”

As The New York Times reports, court papers were filed by the band’s lawyers on Tuesday US time, that claim GoldieBlox’s advertisement constitutes “copyright infringement and is not fair use,” effectively turning the band’s artistic property into “a ‘jingle’ to sell GoldieBlox’s products.”

“GoldieBlox achieved and continues to achieve additional publicity, press coverage and upon information and belief, greater sales of its products, as a direct result of the Beastie Boys’ perceived affiliation with the GoldieBlox Advertisement,” reads the suit.

“Unfortunately,” it continues, “rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others.”

The suit claims that as a result of the dissemination of the GoldieBlox “Princess Machine” video, the band members “have suffered injury to their business, good will and property,” and are therefore “entitled to recover from GoldieBlox the gains, profits and advantages.”

Meanwhile, GoldieBlox’s lawyer, Daralyn Durie, has said that her firm is currently reviewing the band’s filing, adding, “Although the ad has been taken down and we would prefer an amicable resolution, we strongly believe that the parody constitutes fair use.”

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