Fledgling toy company GoldieBlox Inc. has settled a short-lived, high-powered legal fight with the Beastie Boys over the rights to the song “Girls.” In November the company, which markets construction-themed toys to girls, filed a preemptive lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that its use of the Beastie Boys’ song was an obvious parody and was protected by the fair use doctrine. The company used the song in a two-minute video that featured a Rube Goldberg machine that finds creatively destructive uses for a collection of stereotypical girls’ toys. GoldieBlox was originally represented by Annette Hurst of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, who had to withdraw because of a conflict. She was replaced by Daralyn Durie of Durie Tangri.
The Beastie Boys’ longtime counsel, Kenneth Anderson at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, struck back in December with a copyright and trademark infringement suit. The lawsuit was pending before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in Oakland.
The original 1987 “Girls” track features lyrics like: “Girls, to do the dishes … Girls, to do the laundry … Girls, that’s all I really want is girls.” GoldieBlox, whose CEO is a Stanford-educated female engineer turned brand strategy consultant, added new lyrics like “you like to buy us pink toys … it’s time for a change … Girls, to build a spaceship … Girls, to code a new app.” The ad went viral on social media, garnering more than 8 million views.
In an answer and counterclaim filed Feb. 24, the Beastie Boys demanded punitive damages, alleging that GoldieBlox’s video amounted to commercial exploitation and that the company “acted intentionally and despicably with oppression, fraud and malice” toward them.
In a settlement announced Tuesday, GoldieBlox will issue an apology to the Beastie Boys, which will be posted on GoldieBlox’s website. It will also make a payment based on a percentage of its revenues to one or more charities selected by the Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls. We contacted GoldieBlox, which confirmed the settlement but did not have any comment.