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back to article Beastie Boys parody sueball tennis ends after toy firm yanks Girls

A video featuring a parody of the catchy Beastie Boys song Girls* has been removed by a San Francisco-based toy company after it tried to sue the rappers – who themselves had complained about it being used for commercial purposes. GoldieBlox used the music and changed some of the lyrics in the song for an ad that – it said – was …

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Silver badge

Good example

This is a good example for both sides of the debate.

I can appreciate why an artist would express the wish to keep their art out of the clutches of business. However, at the end of the day this is about one party attempting to force their will on another party and whether the motive is good or bad the end result is bad and it is the result that we wish our laws to address.

In a kinder gentler world without copyright something like this would become a non-issue because everybody would be used to being able to express themselves as they wish and reciprocity would demand they allow others to do the same. In our current lop-sided system people can gain control of an expression either by being the first to get there or by wresting control from another. Our mistake was giving them a sense of entitlement to control in the first place.

In matters like this, control of another cannot be a legitimate right and therefore regardless of how you feel about the other person's behavior you have no right to interfere.

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Re: people can gain control of an expression by being the first to get there

By that logic we can all write the complete works of Shakespeare, but he just got there first.

Sounds ridiculous to me, I know I couldn't create what he did. Art is an expression unique to the artist (or in this case artists), no one else can "get there first" because no one can be someone else.

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Anonymous Coward

"by being the first to get there"

I agree, it's really unfair that Bob Dylan was the first to get there with Subterranean Homesick Blues, or Beethoven with his so-called Ninth Symphony. Or Picasso painting Guernica. Anyone could have done that.

What makes all these artists think they should be paid when people buy lots of copies of their work? It's just selfish.

Life's a total bitch.

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Anonymous Coward

"Expressions" are no more just sitting there to be "controlled" as are laptops, cars, or lambchops.

What you call "expression" is the product of someone's labour, and we're talking about a company attempting to enrich themselves using the product of someone else's labour as if it belonged to them.

Are you cool with me controlling your labour without benefit to you? If so, I've got some housework you can come and do for me...

(Also - an artist not wanting to contribute to something as crappy as advertising is a good thing. I'm glad the Beasties have the tools to achieve that.)

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Coat

Re: "by being the first to get there"

Guernica? We are talking Picasso here, it´s stolen of course, from Rubens in this case.

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Re: we can all write the complete works of Shakespeare

While I generally support reasonable copyright law, Shakespeare is the last person to use as an example in arguing about copyright. His works are quite an outlier.

1. He didn't have the advantage of copyright, so we don't really know what would have happened if he and his family had protected his works the was a certain corporation protects a well known rodent. Since everyone could freely copy his stuff, it may have become more well known and more respected because of the copying.

2. While some of us are more than 90% sure we know who he is, academic debate continues on that point.

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Joke

glad i saved a copy of the original

Now where can i repost it?

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"while they were impressed with the production value of the commercial and even the positive message behind it, they still didn't want their music associated with something that was designed with the sole purpose of selling a product."

"Girls - to do the dishes. Girls - to clean up my room. Girls - to do the laundry."

I guess they'd rather have their music set the women's movement back 50 years?

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Anonymous Coward

The original song is a parody, saying that attitude isn't a cracking idea.

If you really think the Beastie Boys recording a tune sets the women's movement back, I'd suggest you're living in la la land.

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Anonymous Coward

They're good lads. Here's them dressed as Carl Sagan:

http://localcreature.co/post/28735775667/babylonfalling-beastie-boys-x-carl-sagan-photo

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Anonymous Coward

Well no, less than 20 in fact, going by when it was released. But I guess you'd rather white knight it on behalf or the world's feminists/activists/women in general who have fought for equal rights and so on, the whole world over, whose combined effort for the last 50 YEARS can apparently be undone by an early Beasties tune.

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And that irritating commercial extolling consumerism in girls somehow sets it forward?

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Actually.. It's for an engineering toy.. Not yet another plastic ink fluffy fashion programming monstrosity.

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Anonymous Coward

The original song is a parody, saying that attitude isn't a cracking idea.

That might be what they claim now, but it's bollocks. I'm old enough to remember not only the Licensed To Ill era that this song dates from, but the gormless frat boy humour of their early punky offerings as well. What really hammered it home that they are a bunch of arrogant tools is their insistence that The Prodigy not play "Smack My Bitch Up" at the same festival as them.

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Facepalm

They've been a victim of.....

....."SABOTAGE".......

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Anonymous Coward

Its a wonderful ad and great use of a recognizable song; however the commercial use without permission is a real problem.

If it was video instead of an ad, "fair use" would cover it, but this is commercial use.

And in the end, they are selling a pink product :P

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Good point, well made.

Where did they find an advertising agency that was willing to use a song in the ad without first getting clearance from the original artists?

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Re: Good point, well made.

"Where did they find an advertising agency that was willing to use a song in the ad without first getting clearance from the original artists?"

Standard practice in the advertising 'industry' is to put the campaign together first, THEN seek whatever permissions are needed AFTER the client has approved the material.

What's obviously happened here is someone 'forgot' the bit that goes in the middle between client approval and final production. ie. Getting the licenses they needed.

Of course, there are always those who simply use whatever they want without bothering with mundane issues like getting permission from the rights holder.

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Re: "where did they find an advertising..."

They call it viral guerilla social marketing.

It's not like they work in a highly-skilled branch of engineering; they're barely evolved from estate agents.

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Re: THEN seek whatever permissions are needed

Sounded like this was done in the US. so long as it is since they did it as parody there is a BLANKET exception to the copyright law. You only legally need permission if you use the actual song and lyrics. It might be that most ad agencies would seek permission anyway just to avoid the potential of burning bridges for future ad campaigns, but that is a purely voluntary action for parody.

And yes, I've been advised by actual US IP lawyers on this point who were being paid to render their opinion on whether something we were doing was legal.

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Anonymous Coward

GoldieBlox were cheeky and blatantly negligent jerks.

I suspect they could be formally sued for breach of copyright and harassment, and lose the case.

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Bronze badge

Re: GoldieBlox were cheeky and blatantly negligent jerks.

Could they have accidentally-on-purpose 'forgotten' to seek permission to use someone else's song the made "were gonna sue the song's creators" gestures (but back off before having to go to court and lose)... all a cynical attempt to buy themselves/their marketing campaign some publicity?

I hope the Beastie Boys sue 'em to the ground.

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Re: I suspect they could be formally sued ... and lose the case.

You suspect wrongly. If it went to court it would be expensive for both parties to file briefs but the result would be The Beastie Boys losing because it was parody. The only way for them to win was for the company to agree to drop the ad. What would have cost the company the most would have been the loss of goodwill from consumers. Sometimes (certainly not most times) that is the most important calculation companies do.

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The BB rider that photos of the band taken at a gig should only be used for specific editorial purposes is slight overkill, as a non-editorial use would require their specific permission anyway. BBs appear to be just as much up themselves and deluded about their cultural signibficance as most other bands which plays against the irrevent posture of their music. These days many bands demand that professional photographers are only allowed access to gigs on the proviso that they only are allowed to photograph a short segment of the gig and that all photographs must be handed over for the bands sole use. It makes the BBs look like towers of enlightenment.

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Mushroom

Arrogance, they haz it

So GoldieBlox blatantly rips off the song, then has the balls to say they felt they had no choice but to defend themselves by counter-suing the creators?

Recto-cranial-inversion award winners of the year.

Yeah, sue their sorry asses right out of business. Nuke 'em 'til they glow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Arrogance, they haz it

Assuming a right to use other people's resources and property to sell the crap-of-the-day is a universal behaviour among marketing/advertising people.

It's no better than spammers insisting its OK for them to use other people's paid-for mail servers and inboxes.

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Re: Arrogance, they haz it

"So GoldieBlox blatantly rips off the song, then has the balls to say they felt they had no choice but to defend themselves by counter-suing the creators?"

Preemptively counter suing too. So since no-one had actually sued anyone at this point, Goldiebox sued the Beastie Boys after the Beastie Boys reps contacted them to say "you used our song"

Step 1: Create campaign stealing an artists song. Ensure you choose an artist who won't sue you for damages

Step 2: Initiate court case against artist

Step 3: After public outcry, drop suit, play nice.

Step 4: Success. Campaign has more hits than ever, video gets watched by millions, and many articles are written.

So without paying the Beastie Boys anything, Goldiebox gets to use their song, and their brand, to push their product.

Pink construction sets telling girls they can be princess engineers is still sexist crap.

Are we really still having to persuade ladies to be engineers etc? All the STEM courses I see (plus business, law, medicine and accounting) have over 50% female by the end of first year. I joke that a number of engineering workplaces seem to have "seahorse" staff, where it's 80% male for the 45+ and 80% female for the 25-35 group.

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