Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox Settle Lawsuit Over 'Girls' Viral Video

A contentious legal battle over fair use comes to a close with an apology and a charitable payment issued by the toy company.
Associated Press
A 1989 photo of the Beastie Boys

A contentious legal battle over the use of the Beastie Boys' 1987 song "Girls" has come to a close with a settlement. 

Toy company GoldieBlox, in a preemptive attempt to declare fair use of the track in a viral video, took the Beasties to court in November 2013. The band responded with a countersuit asserting copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition and misappropriation of publicity rights.

Says a rep for the Beastie Boys: "The lawsuit between the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox concerning GoldieBlox’s use of the Beastie Boys song 'Girls' has been settled. That settlement includes (a) the issuance of an apology by GoldieBlox, which will be posted on GoldieBlox’s website, and (b) a payment by GoldieBlox, based on a percentage of its revenues, to one or more charities selected by Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.”

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The lawsuit proceeded into the new year over a video featuring three girls playing with a Rube Goldberg-type contraption (it's still viewable elsewhere on the internet) after it had already garnered tens of millions of views.

The band further asserted that GoldieBlox demonstrated a systematic campaign of infringement, having used well-known songs from "popular artists in an effort to achieve the company's primary goal of selling toys." According to the counterclaims, GoldieBlox has produced videos exploiting the works of Queen, Daft Punk, Kaskade, Krewella, Avicii, Slam, k.flay and Trevor Guthrie.

The company aired a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl.

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The debate over fair use was a topic discussed at last week's South by Southwest music conference, where Amy Rosen, vp music licensing & supervision at Grey Worldwide, joined Leslie Frank, partner at King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner, LLP, Songs Music Publishing's head of creative services Tom DeSavia and artist Rhett Miller on a panel titled Fighting for Their Rights: A Discussion on the Beastie Boys, Fair Use, and Copyright.

With the settlement agreement, the case is dismissed with prejudice.