Update: GoldieBlox has posted a new version of their “Princess Machine” viral video with the Beastie Boys parody song scrubbed from the soundtrack. Now, there’s a wordless tune playing in the back, though the Rube Goldberg action continues on the screen. You can check it out at the bottom of the page.
In a letter posted on their website, the company says they actually love the band. “When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to transform it into a powerful anthem for girls.,” the letter continues. “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.”
Which sounds like the company intends to put an end to the pre-emptive lawsuit. We actually like the new lyrics they came up with so hopefully they find another use for them.
[h/t Huffington Post]
As soon as we talked up the GoldieBlox video promoting toys for girls that steer clear of the usual pink princess stuff, the company has fallen on the wrong side of online buzz, starting with a lawsuit it filed against the Beastie Boys over use of the rap group’s song “Girls” as the basis for the soundtrack for the clip.
GoldieBlox rewrote the words to “Girls” to emphasize better toys and empowerment for girls in its marketing video. Once attorneys for the Beastie Boys heard the clip, they accused GoldieBlox of copyright infringement. Goldieblox responded with a preemptive lawsuit saying the song is a parody and therefore protected under the fair use exception. The lawsuit says, “GoldieBlox says in its strongly worded complaint that the video was created “specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes,” and that the video “has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song.”
So it looks like this thing is heading to court, but not before it plays out in the court of public opinion. And the Beastie Boys, who have been around for decades and are much-loved, have gone on the offensive. In an open letter quoted on Gawker, the Boys write:
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.
When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
Kind of makes the GoldieBlox folks sound like jerks. But that’s not the only backlash against the company. Slate says that engineers have questioned the quality of the toys (through Amazon reviews) and there are allegations that the toys actually use some of the same old tropes — glitter, princesses, girls being sweet and helpful — but have this empowering message to get adults to purchase them. Slate sort of defends the toys on this front, agreeing with another writer, Deborah Siegel, who says the toys are practicing “Trojan feminism” — serving up a STEM-heavy toy with a dose of pink that little girls tend to love.
Either way, it looks like anyone thinking of purchasing this toy will have to take a closer look at whether it lives up to the message it puts forward in that viral video.