Like the pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, it looks like the Beastie Boys and the toy company that used their 1986 song “Girls” in a viral video without permission have quashed their beefs in time for Thanksgiving. GoldieBlox remade the pro-boys Licensed to Ill track as an endearing advertisement for toys aimed at getting more girls interested in science and technology. But they’ve now pulled the song from the video, as seen above.
But GoldieBlox preemptively sued the the Beasties late last week, claiming the pioneering hip-hop group’s lawyers had threatened a copyright infringement complaint of their own. Mike D and Ad-Rock responded with a classy open letter, praising the ad and its message but saying the group doesn’t allow its work to be used to sell products. In fact, the late Adam “MCA” Yauch had a “no advertising” clause in his will.
As Reuters columnist Felix Salmon has observed, the law treats a parody used to sell product differently than a parody sold for its own sake, and GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling has a history of making provocative video spoofs.
The Beastie Boys hadn’t commented on the move as of early November 27, but there’s reason to hope this unpleasant dispute will no longer darken any holiday dinner tables. GoldieBlox presumably got what it wanted: publicity. Those of us who enjoyed the video in question got to see a long-discomfiting song from a classic album recast in a way that better fits egalitarian values. And the Beastie Boys, as has virtually always been the case for decades, come out looking like great guys.
It’s a Thanksgivukkah miracle. And if more of today’s girls do find high-powered jobs in the future as a result of the publicity, then that will be good gravy. Morrissey’s open letter on the matter should be here any second.