GoldieBlox, a company that makes engineering toys and games to inspire young girls' interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), has released a new version of their viral video, following a dispute with the Beastie Boys over the use of the band's song "Girls."
The original video, which was posted last week and had over 8 million views on YouTube, featured three little girls playing with a Rube Goldberg-like contraption singing satirical lyrics of the band's 1986 hit. The GoldieBlox parody changed the "Girls" rather sexist lines ("Girls — to do the dishes, Girls — to clean up my room, Girls — to do the laundry, Girls — and in the bathroom, Girls, that's all I really want is girls") to more empowering words: "Girls — to build the spaceship, Girls — to code the new app, Girls — to grow up knowing that they can engineer that, Girls, —that's all we really need is girls."
The Beastie Boys contacted the toy company claiming the use of their song was copyright infringement. GoldieBlox filed a preemptive lawsuit on Thursday, November 21, claiming the video fell under fair use. Since then, however, GoldieBlox has changed its tune. Late Tuesday night the original "Princess Machine" video was made private to the public and replaced with a version that only uses instrumental background music.
In addition to uploading the new edited version, GoldieBlox founder and CEO Debbie Sterling wrote a letter to the surviving Beastie Boys Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz, copied below:
Dear Adam and Mike,
We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.
When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing the new lyrics with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.
Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.
We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.
Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video. In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.
We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.
Debbie + Team
Hopefully, GoldieBlox's actions will make the Beastie Boys happy, thus putting an end to the controversy. Then, I can go back to enjoying videos of cute kids playing with innovative toys and blasting hip hop without feeling like I'm getting wrapped up in legal woes.